Giving Tuesday 2020: Need for Emergency Disaster Relief Surges Amid COVID-19

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — Facing a relentless disaster season, families in the U.S. have spent more nights in emergency lodging in 2020 than in any other year over the past decade.  On Giving Tuesday, December 1st you can help to Give Something That Means Something by providing a financial gift, volunteering or scheduling a blood donation.

“As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, disasters like home fires in West Virginia — plus relentless hurricanes and wildfires — have upended hundreds of thousands of lives across the country,” said Erica Mani, Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region. “Through it all, more people are stepping up as Red Cross volunteers to help others — even as they cope with these local home fires, large disasters and COVID-19. It’s a true testament to the humanitarian spirit of people in West Virginia and in our country.”

More than 1 million times this year, a person relied on the Red Cross for a safe place to sleep after a disaster in the U.S. That’s more than four times the annual average from 2011 to 2019.  This year through October, the Red Cross has assisted over 650 families impacted by a disaster in West Virginia providing comfort and care to nearly 1,700 people.  Nearly 85% of those disasters were home fires where volunteers were able to help them secure a safe place to stay and providing food, emotional support and other assistance.

THOUSANDS ANSWER CALL TO HELP This year, more than 70,000 people across the country joined the Red Cross as volunteers — who represent more than 90% of its workforce. As West Virginia and the country grapples with the pandemic, volunteers have played a critical role in disaster response.

NEW BLOOD DONORS SAVE LIVES In 2020, Red Cross blood drive cancellations tripled compared to the year prior — mostly due to COVID-19. Since March, over 50,000 blood drives were canceled as the pandemic forced schools, businesses and community organizations to close, impacting over 1 million blood donation appointments. Still, people rolled up their sleeves — more than a half-million of them giving for the first time.  Blood donation is an essential service, and everyone’s well-being is our top priority. The Red Cross follows the latest public health guidelines, as well as has put additional precautions in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

This pandemic has also caused the Red Cross to adapt its collections to include plasma from COVID-19 survivors to potentially help those battling the virus recover. Thousands of COVID-19 survivors have stepped up to share their potentially lifesaving antibodies by giving plasma. Since April, nearly 25,000 COVID-19 survivors have rolled up a sleeve — many of whom are new to blood donation. Their donations have enabled the Red Cross to ship nearly 50,000 units to hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients.

HOW YOU CAN HELP On Giving Tuesday and during the holiday season, help people in need by donating at redcross.org/gift. A gift of any size makes a difference.  If you’re healthy and feeling well, we also urge you to donate blood this holiday season. Your blood donation can make a lifesaving difference for a patient in need. Visit RedCrossBlood.org to schedule an appointment today.