Just four weeks into her job with the local chapter New River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Annie Harvey, executive director of the New River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, responds to her first house fire. From where she stands across the street in the neighbor’s yard, holding the hands of the two little girls who lived in the house, she knows for certain that this is a moment she’ll never forget. The parents, standing beside the girls, and the girls, one a year older, the other a year younger, than her own daughter watch as firefighters battle the flames shooting out of the windows of the two-story brick house in Pulaski.

Mother and child at the Red Cross

“Our community support, both with volunteers and donations, and the spirit of our volunteers is what allows us to do what we do. Our volunteers are who makes up our Red Cross, the paid staff is just the vehicle,” said Harvey, who is now the executive director of the New River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We meet people on the worst day of their lives and we have the opportunity to help them start over, and that’s an amazing thing to do on a regular basis.”

In 2012, 54 Virginia Tech employees donated more than $5,000 directly to the New River Valley chapter of the American Red Cross through the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC).

These donations helped the chapter respond to 22 disasters, assist 22 families, give 555 disaster preparedness presentations, instruct 4,826 people in lifesaving skills, provide over 107 services to military families, and provide 676 community services in 2012.

The chapter serves more than 180,000 people who live in the City of Radford, Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, and the counties of Montgomery, Floyd, Giles, Bland, and Pulaski.

With only five people headquartered in a small office in Christiansburg, the chapter provides disaster training, preparedness and response, emergency communication and financial assistance for members of the armed forces and their families, international services and tracing, and CPR and first aid training for the community and the workplace.

They are 100 percent dependent on funding from the community, as they receive no federal or state funding.

September is Red Cross Preparedness Month and the Red Cross chapter is willing to give a presentation to any type of group.

“Educating the community is very important. We are more than just blood services, we are the ones who are standing in your neighbor’s yard at night putting out a fire,” said Harvey.

Please consider donating to any of the 1,000 charities participating in this year’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. The online CVC Pledge System enables salaried Virginia Tech employees to make fast, easy, and secure donations via payroll deduction. All donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law.

First published on September 19, 2013.

Written by Nadia Groome, a junior majoring in communications at Virginia Tech.

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