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FAQs

General FAQs

  1. What is the worst disaster the Red Cross has ever dealt with?

  2. Who founded the American Red Cross?

  3. U.S. Armed Forces have highly skilled medical staff as part of their fighting force, why does the American Red Cross send its members into battle?

  4. Why are symbols other than a red cross used by other National Societies within the Movement?

  5. Where can I give blood?

  6. How can the Red Cross help me?

  7. Can I get a disease if I give/receive blood?

  8. Who founded the Red Cross?

  9. What is the Mission of the American Red Cross?

  10. Is the American Red Cross part of the U.S. government?

  11. Why won't the Red Cross accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies-doesn't every little bit help?

  12. What can I do to help?

  13. Where can I find evidence of Red Cross insurance coverage?

  14. What are the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement?

  1. What is the worst disaster the Red Cross has ever dealt with?
    The highest natural disaster death toll in U.S. history was caused by the Galveston, Texas, hurricane of 1900, which killed an estimated 6,000 people. The most expensive disaster is the Hurricane Relief Effort following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in the fall of 2005. The destructive events will cost Red Cross more than $2 billion. These hurricane disasters also resulted in the largest mobilization of Red Cross volunteers for any disaster relief operation – almost 245,000 workers arrived on the scene to provide relief. All told, the Red Cross assisted more than 1.4 million families from these three disasters.
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  2. Who founded the American Red Cross?
    Clara Barton (1821-1912) dominates the early history of the American Red Cross, which was modeled after the International Red Cross. She did not originate the Red Cross idea, but she was the first person to establish a lasting Red Cross Society in America. She successfully organized the American Association of the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881. Created to serve America in peace and in war, during times of disaster and national calamity, Barton's organization took its service beyond that of the International Red Cross Movement by adding disaster relief to battlefield assistance. She served as the organization's volunteer president until 1904.
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  3. U.S. Armed Forces have highly skilled medical staff as part of their fighting force, why does the American Red Cross send its members into battle?
    In 1905, the U.S. Congress granted a charter to the American Red Cross that required it to act "in accord with the military authorities as a medium of communication between the people of the United States and their armed forces." Since then, the Red Cross has provided communications and other humanitarian services to help members of the U.S. military and their families around the world. Living and working in the same difficult situations and dangerous environment as U.S. troops, Red Cross staff have given comfort to soldiers thousands of miles from home by providing emergency messages, about deaths and births, for example, comfort kits and blank cards for troops to send home to loved ones.
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  4. Why are symbols other than a red cross used by other National Societies within the Movement?
    Although the red cross is not a religious symbol, some societies view it as such. The symbol of the red crescent is used instead of the red cross by societies in most Islamic countries; and the Magen David Adom, or Red Shield of David, is used in Israel.
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  5. Where can I give blood?
    In most areas of the country the American Red Cross takes blood donations. However, the United Blood Services Central Coast handles all donations in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties. Please don't hesitate to give them a call.

    United Blood Services Central Coast Offices

    Santa Maria

    United Blood Services
    Central Coast

    1770 South Broadway
    Santa Maria, CA 93454
    (805) 928-2546
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    Santa Barbara

    United Blood Services Central Coast Headquarters
    902 Laguna Street
    Santa Barbara CA 93101
    (805) 965-7037
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    San Luis Obispo

    United Blood Services
    Central Coast
    4119 Broad St. Suite 100
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
    (805) 543-4290
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  6. How can the Red Cross help me?
    The Red Cross is committed to saving lives and easing suffering. This diverse organization serves humanity and helps you by providing relief to victims of disaster, both locally and globally. The Red Cross is responsible for half of the nation's blood supply and blood products. The Red Cross gives health and safety training to the public and provides emergency social services to U.S. military members and their families. In the wake of an earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, hurricane or other disaster, it provides relief services to communities across the country. The Red Cross is America's most trusted charity, and it needs the support of compassionate Americans to succeed.
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  7. Can I get a disease if I give/receive blood?
    Giving blood is a very safe procedure. Every donation is taken from a new and sterile needle, which is immediately disposed of after that single use. When these procedures are followed, you cannot contract the virus that causes AIDS.

    It is also safe to receive a blood transfusion. In fact, the risks of contracting a blood-borne disease through transfusion are far less than the risks of not receiving that transfusion at all. The nation's blood supply is safer today than it has ever been and is as safe as modern science and medicine can make it. The chance of contracting the virus that causes AIDS through a blood transfusion is one in 1.5 million.
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  8. Who founded the Red Cross?
    The Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy, between the armies of imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Some 40,000 men lay dead or dying on the battlefield and the wounded were lacking medical attention. Dunant organized local people to bind the soldiers' wounds and to feed and comfort them. On his return, he called for the creation of national relief societies to assist those wounded in war, and pointed the way to the future Geneva Conventions.

    In October 1863, The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was created in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide nonpartisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. The Red Cross emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality and was to be used by national relief societies. In August 1864, the representatives of 12 governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. The extraordinary efforts of Henry Dunant led to the eventual establishment of the International Red Cross. Today, the Red Cross Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 175 countries, including the American Red Cross of the United States.
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  9. What is the Mission of the American Red Cross?
    The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, will provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
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  10. Is the American Red Cross part of the U.S. government?
    The American Red Cross functions independently of the government but works closely with government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during times of major crises. It is responsible for giving aid to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to disaster victims at home and abroad. It does this through services that are consistent with its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement allowing the Red Cross to stay neutral and impartial.
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  11. Why won't the Red Cross accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies-doesn't every little bit help?
    The Red Cross does not accept individual donations of material items (called "in-kind" donations) because receipt of such items can actually hamper relief efforts. The financial and personnel cost of receiving, sorting, transporting goods and ensuring the quality and cleanliness of items donated by individual households is very high. It does not allow for individuals and families to receive what they uniquely need in their own size and shape.

    The traditional method of providing Red Cross assistance is with a voucher, redeemable at local stores and paid for with donation dollars, that enables victims to purchase what they need in the correct sizes and in accordance with their own taste. Making even these small decisions helps individuals begin to take control of their lives and their recovery. In addition, this process helps channel money into the local economy and thus aids the community in recovery from disaster. The Red Cross does accept large corporate donations of food, bottled water and other items needed by the disaster-affected communities.
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  12. What can I do to help?
    There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross to support all of the organization's services. People who wish to volunteer should contact their local American Red Cross chapter because the vast majority of volunteer opportunities are typically found within an individual's local community. (For more information, please contact the Santa Barbara County Chapter at (805) 687-1331). International disaster relief workers are drawn from a pool of paid and volunteer staff with extensive prior experience.

    Individuals wishing to make a financial donation to the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter may send a check made payable to the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter and mail it to the Chapter at 2707 State St., Santa Barbara CA 93105-3567. Financial contributions the American Red Cross, its National Disaster Relief Fund or to specific local or regional disasters may be directed to:

American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013.

Be sure to add the purpose of your gift on the “Memo” line of your check. You may also call 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575 to charge a financial contribution to a credit card. Donations may also be made on our secure Internet site.
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  1. Where can I find evidence of Red Cross insurance coverage?
    Evidence of Red Cross insurance coverage is available in the form of a Memorandum of Insurance (MOI). The MOI is a listing of liability policies, policy numbers and insurance companies, and general property information prepared by Marsh USA, Inc., the insurance broker for the Red Cross. The Memorandum is available at any time, subject to web site maintenance and information updates.
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  2. What are the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement?

  • Humanity: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

  • Impartiality: It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

  • Neutrality: In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

  • Independence: The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

  • Voluntary Service: It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

  • Unity: There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

  • Universality: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

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