"If it weren't for public support, we couldn't do what we do and that support comes not only in the form of dollars but also in terms of volunteerism," said Sharman Turner, volunteer coordinator for the Red Cross' Northwest Georgia Chapter. "Red Cross is a volunteer-led, volunteer-driven organization. If it weren't for our volunteers, we couldn't respond locally within our communities.
"We couldn't respond across our state and we certainly couldn't respond across the country. So giving is so key. It's key all throughout the year, but during the month of March we really want to just thank those who have contributed to us, encourage those who are thinking about contributing with their time or money, and just make everyone aware."
Along with responding to local disasters, from single family fires to tornadoes, the Red Cross also provides educational offerings for the community.
"Bartow County, the services that we provide there are the same services that we provide all throughout our area of responsibility," Turner said, adding the organization's Disaster Action Team volunteers have responded to 34 incidents in Bartow since May 2010. "Northwest Georgia Chapter covers 10 counties here in northwest Georgia. Our volunteers, we have a tremendous volunteer base there in Bartow County as we do throughout our service area actually but when most people think of us responding on a local level, they think of something like flood damage or they think of a single family house fire or tornado damage and that is really key to what we do here on our local chapter level.
"But also Red Cross is very committed to preparedness, health and safety education, which are things like teaching local CPR classes, CPR and first aid, water safety. Because we don't have a large military base here in our service area -- like if we were at Columbus and we had Fort Benning or I think it's Hunter Army [Airfield], which is in the Savannah area -- our support to the services for armed forces is really geared toward family members with loved ones who are deployed overseas. And Red Cross facilitates communication between those two parties."
Along with assisting in other Red Cross offerings, Jenny Reedy -- donor recruitment representative for Red Cross' Northwest Georgia Territory -- said the Bartow community also is generous with donating blood at area drives.
"Cartersville has been known as the county with the highest participation rate within its donor base at the blood drive," Reedy said Tuesday. "So like the community drive that is going on today at the [Cartersville] Civic Center -- it [is conducted] the last Tuesday of every month -- we'll see about 80 donors a month there. ... The community always comes out and supports the local blood drives."
Even though the Red Cross does not supply blood to Cartersville Medical Center, Reedy said the need still is pressing with the nonprofit providing blood to more than 120 hospitals in Georgia. To meet the demands of these hospitals, 1,200 people are needed to donate blood and platelets each weekday.
"Blood only lasts 35 to 42 days and the state of Georgia is an importing state," Reedy said. "We import blood every week from other areas. We don't even collect enough to sustain ourselves.
"So with the blood only lasting 35 to 42 days and then the fact that we don't collect enough, even though we're not in an urgent situation for inventory, we try to pride ourselves on having enough to not have to get it from other regions. ... [Donating is important because] you don't live in a bubble. All of us travel. ... You never know where you're going to be when you need blood."
With several public drives scheduled in Bartow next month, the community is encouraged to contribute to this cause. Generally, most individuals older than 16, who weigh at least 110 pounds, can donate blood every 56 days.
The upcoming Cartersville drives include April 6 from noon to 5 p.m. at Walmart, 101 Market Blvd.; April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Woodland High School, 800 Old Alabama Road; April 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cartersville High School, 320 E. Church St.; April 24 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St.; and April 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Georgia Highlands College, 5441 Highway 20.
For more information on blood drives in the Bartow area, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org. To volunteer with the local Red Cross chapter, email Turner at Sharman.Turner@redcross.org.