By Sarah Snyder
It takes a lot of supplies for the Red Cross to meet the needs of emergency responders and fire victims.
Our local Red Cross serves 26 counties in Southwest Texas, the largest coverage area in the State.
With so many fires lately they need help now more than ever before.
"It has really been a strain on our volunteers," Bob Rice, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Southwest Texas, said.
Since January our local Red Cross has covered a record, 38 fires.
"Mother nature has not necessarily been too kind to us this year, in terms of the number of times we've been called out," Rice said.
And they need your help.
"Our largest challenge is volunteers," Rice said. "We are desperately in need of people who are willing to go out to a disaster site to assist people."
Volunteer training takes anywhere from one weekend to five weekends. Volunteers spend as much or as little time as they can.
"Our needs, as far as support from the community, in the form of financial contributions and volunteers, it's greatly increased," Rice said.
The Red Cross receives financial support from foundations, United Way, and corporations, but most of their funding comes from private donors. They also need office volunteers. Right now, they have three office workers who are responsible for 26 counties.
"If we have to respond without enough funds, we're going to respond without enough funds, because we're always going to be there."
Volunteers say assisting the emergency responders and victims is a privilege.
"They have been standing there for 8 hours, waiting or fighting fires, whatever they've been doing, and they see this vehicle come by and this window open, and you have the opportunity to put a smile on their face when they see food or water, ice, perhaps the eyedrops, that kind of thing. Boy, I'll tell you, that makes it all worthwhile," Rice said.
It usually costs the Red Cross between $1,500 and $2,000 to respond to a fire that affects a family of four.
And with the price of gas and food going up, that cost just keeps rising.
If you are interested in donating or volunteering, you can find out more by visiting their website at http://www.redcrosssouthwest.org.