Red Cross adapts during pandemic to continue helping people in need

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The way the American Red Cross is helping people is changing, but the work is still getting done.

“We have completely revamped the model,” said Sarah Wickham, talking about helping those in need after a disaster.

Wickham is a disaster program manager at the American Red Cross of Capital Area Kansas.

“Instead of going in person, right now we’ve just changed how we are doing it. We are connecting with our community members who have suffered from a disaster via technology,” she said.

Red Cross volunteers respond to house fires and help people recover from natural disasters. They’re trying to keep in-person contact to a minimum to stay safe. They help provide housing and money for the victims.

The Red Cross typically has a number of older people volunteering each year. Some, not all, of them are deciding to stay home during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean there is less help.

Since some Kansans have had more time on their hands, the Red Cross is actually seeing an influx of volunteers.

Locations around the country, like the one in Topeka, also help with national disasters. For bigger disasters like large scale flooding, wildfires, and hurricanes, there will still be reinforcements coming from Kansas.

“We are still having the abilities to send people out if needed. It is a much more limited procedure at this time,” Wickham said. “I would say it’s only about 30 percent of our typical would be going out, it’s the people that have to mission critical jobs that would be deployed.”

Wickham said the Red Cross always welcomes more volunteers.

The organization is also pushing for more people to donate blood. They currently offer coronavirus antibody testing for donors.

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