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Panda Express Commits Largest Gift to Date — $2.2M — to Hawaii Wildfire Relief Efforts

Fri, 09/01/2023 - 11:13

In early August, the deadliest wildfire in U.S. history tore through the Hawaiian island of Maui. In the wake of the devastation, the American Red Cross, along with our partners, rushed to help — providing shelter, meals and emotional support.

Panda Express is one of those generous partners. Almost immediately, they turned on their in-store donation program and a dollar-for-dollar corporate matching program and raised $2.2M to help Red Cross relief efforts in the wake of the fires.

Red Crosser Dave Gutierrez, Senior Director of Program Management for Disaster Operations and Logistics, was deployed to Maui in the wake of the wildfires.

Locally, Panda associates on Maui collaborated with the Salvation Army and Red Cross to host a Panda Cares event, feeding 860 first responders and community members displaced by the fires. Additionally, they provided free meals to local community members throughout the month of August and also supplied 10,000 fortune cookies to the Red Cross operation.

“Our hearts go out to the families and communities impacted by the devastating Hawaii wildfires,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “We are so very grateful to Panda Express for their generous donation, which enables us to offer hope, comfort and essential support to families reeling from these deadly fires.”

“The impact of the Maui wildfires has been devastating, and we extend our heartfelt empathy and care to those who have been affected by this tragedy,” said Dr. Peggy Cherng, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Panda Restaurant Group. “Giving is a core value at Panda, and we are so thankful for how our community of guests and associates have come together, in partnership with the American Red Cross, to help those in need.”

As a long-time Red Cross supporter, Panda Express has stepped up continuously to help during disasters. With this most recent gift, Panda Cares Foundation — the philanthropic arm — has donated nearly $7.2M toward Red Cross relief efforts over the years, powering our response after several hurricanes and during the Ukraine humanitarian crisis. Panda also regularly provides meals in the wake of local disasters around the country, helping those in need while also ensuring Red Crossers working around the clock are fed.

Thank you to Panda Express and your guests for your incredible generosity in the wake of these tragic wildfires. We couldn’t fulfill our mission without supportive partners like you! Learn more about how you can partner with the Red Cross to support disaster relief.

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National Youth Council Member Cissy Wang Shares Her Experience at the Inter-American Conference in the Bahamas

Wed, 07/26/2023 - 09:40

As a young leader, I had the privilege to attend the XXII Red Cross Inter-American Conference as the American Red Cross’ Youth Delegate. It was truly an opportunity of a lifetime to sit alongside fellow youth and National Society leaders and innovate “Local Solutions to Global Challenges,” a clearly fitting theme for the conference.

A total of 34 National Societies gathered in Nassau, Bahamas with an objective of strengthening cooperation among the region’s societies and establishing a shared commitment to addressing global humanitarian concerns.  

Within the American Red Cross, I serve as the Peer Outreach Working Group Lead of the National Youth Council, a group of thirteen youth volunteers nationally representing our youth program. Outside of this role, I’m also engaged in our International Humanitarian Law Youth Action Campaign where I guide teams in learning and spreading awareness about global conflicts and civilian protection.

Before the main session of the conference, I participated in a two-day youth event alongside 18 other Youth Delegates representing the various National Societies and IFRC Youth Commission. It focused on bringing together youth leaders across the Americas and discussing what we can collectively work on to amplify and empower youth and young adult voices.  

One of my favorite highlights of this event was a visit from Dyanne Marenco González, President of the Costa Rica Red Cross. As a 32-year-old female National Society President, she empowered our group with her impactful words about overcoming doubt as a young leader when surrounded by seasoned professionals and embracing youth as the present, not just the future. 

Over the two days, I shared the breadth of resources and initiatives our National Youth Council creates to keep youth volunteers engaged in volunteerism. I received new best practices from others in topics ranging from structures for youth in governance to diversifying content across age groups. I knew I would have great insights to bring back and share with our own youth leaders following the conference. I also realized my growth as not only a youth leader but also a global citizen; conversations about Red Cross volunteerism bled into glimpses of life and culture across the National Societies. 

Throughout the plenary session regarding Youth and Volunteerism, it was empowering and inspiring to see the Youth Delegates I had formed such close connections with speak on a stage in front of the full delegations of all societies.


Going forward, I see an American Red Cross Youth goal as bringing youth/young adults closer to staff and leadership through prioritizing interpersonal connections. As for how we interact with our global peers, we must continue to engage with youth across the Americas and further foster these conference connections by increasing the opportunities to collaborate.  


This experience has made me feel even more empowered as a young adult that I can directly impact my community and our world through volunteerism. The connections made at this conference and beyond will be long-lasting and I’m grateful to have built relationships with people who share my desire to serve the Red Cross mission all around the world.  


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People — not mosquitoes — need blood: Partnering to bolster the nation’s blood supply

Fri, 07/21/2023 - 12:38

Every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood — and the American Red Cross works tirelessly to provide 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Each day, we must collect approximately 12,500 blood and nearly 3,000 platelet donations to meet the needs of patients across the country.

During the summer months, vacations and school closures often impact blood drives, and it can be challenging to maintain an adequate supply. To help ensure Red Cross shelves stay stocked with lifesaving blood, our partner Orkin stepped up to host its “Mosquitoes Don’t Deserve a Drop” campaign for the fourth year in a row.

Orkin’s Dawn Aguayo donates blood at a recent drive.

Orkin’s mission through its awareness campaign is to help protect people against the public health threats of mosquitoes — diseases like West Nile virus and Zika — while making sure these pests don’t get a drop of the country’s blood supply.

As part of this year’s campaign, Orkin donated $250,000 to the Red Cross and co-hosted blood drives in five cities across the U.S., resulting in 126 units of blood collected. Since 2020, Orkin has supported the Red Cross through Mosquitoes Don’t Deserve a Drop, and to date, has donated $620,000.

“I’m thrilled to have participated in Orkin’s Mosquitoes Don’t Deserve a Drop campaign with the American Red Cross,” said Commercial Sales Director Dawn Aguayo. “By donating blood I’m able to make a significant difference in helping to save lives.”

We’re honored to partner with Orkin year after year and appreciate their commitment to community health. Thank you for helping us maintain the blood supply each summer!

To learn more about how you can partner with a purpose and support our lifesaving mission, click here.

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Pup-paredness is a Family Effort

Wed, 07/12/2023 - 20:18
Pet preparedness is important to me because my dog Oakley came into my life during the Oak Fire in Mariposa.

Unfortunately, the emergency conditions her owners found themselves in meant that they were unable to keep her safe during the wildfire evacuation. Because of her history, Oakley and I have taken several steps to be prepared. If we ever had to go through an emergency together, it is important to me to keep her safe.

The first thing I did is build Oakley a pet emergency kit that goes with her anywhere she goes. It has items such as extra food, water, collapsible bowls, a leash, waterless doggy shampoo, towels, bags and of course, a bone! If I go out of town and she has to go stay with someone, the bag goes where she goes. It gives me peace of mind knowing that in an emergency, I can grab that bag and have everything I would need to take care of Oakley.

Second, I include her in my evacuation drills. When I’m practicing my 2-Minute Home Fire Escape Plan, I make sure to include Oakley. We practice me calling her from the house and her meeting me at our meeting spot. If only I could train my cats to do the same!

Third, I pay attention to where Oakley and the cats hide when they’re scared. During thunderstorms or fireworks, I pay attention to where Oakley and the cats go in the house to feel comfortable. It’s hard to think about, but I know that if there was a house fire, I would have to focus on getting myself out safely. Once I’m out safely at my meeting spot and calling Oakley doesn’t work. I can tell the firefighters where she goes when she’s scared and they will try to help her. I hope we’re never in that situation, that’s why we practice our 2-Minute Home Fire Escape Plan together, but I want to be prepared.

In an emergency, your pets will be even more dependent on you for their safety and well-being. Your family’s disaster plans must include your furry family members too. Today and every day, I encourage you to learn what to do to keep your beloved pets safe! Find information on pet preparedness here.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Download the Red Cross First Aid App 

Thu, 07/06/2023 - 07:30



If your friend got a minor cut or suddenly collapsed, would you know what to do? Emergencies can strike when you least expect them and having the right information and resources at your fingertips can make all the difference. This is where the Red Cross First Aid app comes in!

This powerful tool offers a wealth of knowledge, features and benefits that can empower you and any of your friends to handle emergencies responsibly and effectively.

If you haven’t downloaded the First Aid app yet and are still wondering whether it’s worth the small investment of storage space on your phone, here are 10 reasons why you should download it today:

  1. It’s easy to use and provides step-by-step instructions on how to respond and treat everyday first aid scenarios like insect bites.
  1. Phone service or internet connectivity isn’t required. You can still access essential first aid information and resources without it.
  1. You can call 911 and get professional help in the app with just one click of a button.
  1. Locate nearby hospitals in seconds during an emergency by enabling your location permissions.
  1. Be the first of your friends to download the app and know how to help them if they experience an emergency. Because being a lifesaving hero is cool!
  1. Find specific topics, keywords and conditions instantly through the Siri/Bixby-enabled search bar.
  1. Read inspiring stories of real-life heroes who used their knowledge and skills to save or sustain someone’s life.
  1. Regularly refresh your skills with interactive games, quizzes and through a new Metronome feature that allows you to practice the proper pacing for CPR compressions (100-120 beats per minute). You can learn more about this new feature in the Cardiac Arrest section (Step #4)! 
  1. La aplicación móvil está disponible en ingles y español. Translation: The content in the app is available in English and Spanish. 
  1. Lastly, It’s FREE! Yes, this means you can access lifesaving information and resources without breaking the bank and only investing in a little bit of storage space on your phone.
What’s Next?!

Tap here to download the First Aid app or visit your App Store and search ‘Red Cross First Aid.’ Accidents and emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time. But now, you have access to expert advice and resources to help a family member, neighbor or bystander, if necessary, right in the palm of your hand.


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What Pride Month Means to Service to the Armed Forces Program Manager Riley Swanson

Fri, 06/23/2023 - 04:36

“… Being an authentic human at the end of the day means you can excel in all areas of your life. It is better than being inauthentic.”

Working for an organization like the American Red Cross that supports Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) means a lot to Regional Program Manager for Service to the Armed Forces and International Services Riley Swanson. She says the mission of the Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate human suffering, which extends to the workplace.

“What people don’t realize is anytime you have to hide who you are, a part of yourself, it does cause you to know these little micro sufferings of not being able to be fully yourself and fully present in the world,” said Riley. “So having an organization that says we see you. We love you. We want to celebrate you. We want to learn more about you. We want to teach others about you and people like you and people different from you is just the most forward-thinking, inclusive way of saying that we see you. That is the most beautiful part that I feel valued, appreciated, and recognized.”

Riley feels comfortable discussing her lifestyle with her co-workers. “It’s not something to be ashamed of or to be afraid of, because the culture here in the Red Cross and how we approach it is to look at it and say we want to include you.”

As a result, Riley can focus more on her job knowing she has the support of her peers. “I mean, being an authentic human at the end of the day means you can excel in all areas of your life. It is better than being inauthentic. If you ever feel like you must hold yourself back, you are holding back more than just one component. It takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of emotional strain and mental strain trying to remember what you can and cannot say or how to act…It takes that stress and constant worrying off my plate so I can do my job and fully engage with my community, staff, and volunteers.”

Riley also credits her amazing family and supportive community. “I haven’t had to struggle in the same way that a lot of people have.”

Regarding Pride Month, Riley said, “It is more than just sexual orientation. It is about gender identity. It is about who you are and how you are, and that is also a process of evolution. You know, we do not just decide one day to be one thing and then that is how we are for the rest of our lives.”

Coming out at age 15, Riley describes it as a “beautiful growth process” where you “learn a lot about yourself, the people around you and how you can feel supported in that community…It would probably be pretty boring if we were all the same.”

Riley understands there are people who do not agree with her lifestyle or would not have picked this life for her, but she says, “Love is love,” adding her lifestyle does not have a negative effect on other people.

“I have seen the different signs and things people say such as, ‘I don’t support gay marriage’ and my favorite comeback is a little bit humorous, but it is like well then, ‘You don’t have to get gay married.’ We are not asking anybody else to become something or do something they are not comfortable with…

“We’re just trying to be our authentic selves and there’s so much love in that and it’s so much to celebrate that my hope for anyone, my comeback to anyone would really just be, you know, I hope someday that you can give yourself grace and understanding to see that we aren’t hurting anybody and you can live your life the way that you want to. Just allow us that same grace and that same respect.”

Riley and her fiancée Paige plan to get married in September. “Sometimes I get frustrated and think how hard it is to say spouse or partner instead of assuming the gender of my partner. But at the end of the day, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to educate people and share,” adding she has always felt safe with her identity and has not been threatened.

“I definitely think Red Cross does a lot for DEI between the training that we have and the PRIDE resource group that we have, which is phenomenal.”

She said any minority group deserves a “day, week or month to celebrate who they are, their culture and their identity.”

This story was originally published on the American Red Cross Arizona and New Mexico Blog. 

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Longtime Red Cross Partner United Airlines Transports Red Cross Supplies to Guam

Tue, 06/20/2023 - 07:24
Red Cross supplies are ready to be loaded into a United Airlines cargo plane heading to Guam.

On Wednesday, May 24, Super Typhoon Mawar slammed into the U.S. island territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands with intense 140 mph winds, flooding rain and a life-threatening storm surge. The typhoon caused considerable damage, and many on the islands remain without power and safe drinking water.

The Red Cross prepositioned supplies and disaster relief workers in Guam, but in the immediate aftermath of the storm, sending additional resources and support to the island was a logistical challenge. Just a few days after the storm struck, United Airlines — an Annual Giving Disaster Program (ADGP) member since 2014 — launched a humanitarian flight loaded with disaster relief supplies and 34 lifesaving blood products.

The flight carried essentials like clean-up and comfort kits, tarps and trash bags, the first wave of IT equipment to support the operation including phones, tablets and more, along with blood products and a Red Cross passenger. This in-kind cargo support is above and beyond United Airlines’ $500,000 annual commitment.

“Thanks to United Airlines’ generous gift, the American Red Cross is helping people devastated by Typhoon Mawar,” said Anne McKeough, chief development officer at the American Red Cross. “We are grateful for partners like United Airlines, whose support is making a critical difference to provide relief and comfort to those in dire need.”

The Red Cross couldn’t support communities in times of crisis without our ADGP partners that ensure we’re resourced to respond at a moment’s notice. Many, like United Airlines, also step up during disasters and provide even more support when it’s needed most.

Thank you, United Airlines, for your continued partnership!

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