The Red Cross now has a van serving St. Clair County, giving the organization more flexibility.

The Red Cross of St. Clair County now has a new way to serve. St. Clair County Red Cross Service Center Manager Christine Arnold picked up a service van last week from the Birmingham headquarters. “It’s the first van for St. Clair County that I know of,” Arnold said. They have them in other areas like Walker and Shelby County. Along with us, Blount County also received one. Eventually I think Bessemer may get one too.”

The Red Cross’ ARCHIE (American Red Cross Helping In Emergencies) teams use the vans specifically after hours, to respond to residential fires, and natural disasters like tornados and floods. The van is packed with food, water, basic clothing and even toys to comfort families in the aftermath of a disaster. “We plan to get ARCHIE teams on the road the first of April. Training is on March 31 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., hopefully here at the service center,” Arnold said. Anyone interested should call the Red Cross at (205) 884-1221 to register for the free instruction.

To drive the van you must have first aid and CPR training. Two volunteers work together during shifts with one serving the families and the other handling the paper work. “You can sign up as you like. It’s not like you have to do a whole week at a time. We’re flexible with people’s schedules and that’s the way it was designed to be. If you’re able to go out in the day, we’ll put you on a day shift. If you want to go out at night or on the weekends, we’ll put you on those shifts,” Arnold noted.

Arnold also stressed that people in need of help still come into the office during normal hours, if possible, to fill out their paperwork.

“Now that we have the van, we have to come up with ways to pay for it,” Arnold laughed. “If people are not able to go out on volunteer shifts, I’ll take donations too.

Right now our goal is to get the van up and running and people on the road to help their neighbors.”

*Next Saturday, March 14, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. the St. Clair County Red Cross Volunteer Fair will be held at the Alabama Forestry Commission in Springville. Participants will learn about volunteer opportunities such as helping your neighbors recover from residential fires, meeting one-on-one with clients, becoming a shelter worker and serving clients as nurses and mental health professionals.

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