JONESBORO, AR - The Red Cross needs your help. And though blood donations are always appreciated, there's another need...cash.
"They were there for me and my son. They were here for the other families. They have been here for every one of us here." Says Kathy Russell who lives at the Pines apartments in Jonesboro. On Wednesday fire destroyed 2 apartments and sent smoke boiling into others.
Jody Carter, the Red Cross Disaster Manager for Northeast Arkansas says state wide the agency responds to at least 4 fires a day.
Carter, "Since the beginning of the year in fact. The American Red Cross in Northeast Arkansas across a 16 county area, has responded to 38 fires that have impacted 155 people."
Including the Fire at the Pines Apartments where 26 people were displaced including Kathy Russell and her son who needed temporary shelter away from the smoke.
Russell, "My son has allergies. When he breathes in any type of smoke or anything he gets nose bleeds from his allergies so they put us up in a motel for a couple of nights to keep us out of the smoke in case the smoke kept coming through all night long."
Russell said she had always thought Red Cross helped people with only major disasters, not fires across the hall.
Carter, "After a fire the American Red Cross is there to help our neighbors with some money to help with food or clothing. We can also offer help with sheltering if they need it. If it's a small event we'll use a local motel. If it's a large event we might open a mass shelter."
"Wow, Red Cross helps you with this? I didn't know." said Russell.
Most people don't. Assistance varies from situation to situation. It often begins with a gift bag filled with hygiene items. The money is given out on debit cards usually right at the scene.
Carter, "We base the assistance we provide on the amount of need. So based on the amount of need it could just be a little bit or a bit more substantial again just depending on the amount of need. It will give them a pair or two of clothes, and enough food for a couple of days."
Carter said with the right shopping a person can stretch the dollars out.
So by now you may be asking yourself, How can I help? It's real easy, all you have to do is go to red cross.org and make a donation underneath the zip code which means that most of the money, in fact nearly 90 percent of it stays right here locally for the people that need it. I'll put that link with this story.
Carter says they realize that many people who lose homes may need longer periods of assistance than they can provide.
Carter, "We have wonderful partners in the community that we can refer our clients to as well to receive additional assistance."
Russell was very supportive of the assistance she received. "It was the first time I have ever gone through Red Cross and I am very thankful that I did."