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Serving Polk and Highlands Counties in the Mid-Florida Region

Below:   Donate   Prepare   National Disasters   Babysitting   Highlands County   Hurricane Season   Blood

  PDF version of e-Newsletter
  2007-2008 Annual Report

Be Safe in 2009:
Get Ready for the New Year with the
 12 Days of Disaster Preparedness,
 Cold Weather Safety Tips,
 Home Fire Safety Tips, and
 Wildfire Safety Tips.

Get American Red Cross CPR & First Aid training
Would you know what to do
in an emergency?
Learn now.

American Red Cross Polk County Chapter Health & Safety Department
— (863) 294-5941 or visit the main office at 147 Ave. A, NW, Winter Haven.
Highlands County Service Center
— (863) 386-4440, or visit 106 Medical Center Drive in Sebring.
See our course listings


Pick one of two Spring Break Babysitting Boot Camps

 For Spring Break, Babysitting Boot Camp will have two sessions in Polk County and one in Highlands. Wherever you live, there is a camp serving you.
Sign up now.

  Polk - (863) 294-5941;
  Highlands - (863) 386-4440;

Learn more on Red Cross Babysitting Training.


Donate Directly:

In Polk - Call (863) 294-5941 or send to:
147 Ave. A, NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881

In Highlands - Call (863) 386-4440 or mail:
106 Medical Center Ave., Sebring, FL 33870

  When calling, please give your name; address; phone number; credit card type, credit card number, and expiration date.
  Also, please specify whether you want funds to support the Polk County Chapter, the Highlands County Red Cross, or the National American Red Cross Disaster Fund.

   You're It - with us!

Show your support wherever you go.
 Visit your Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles office or your Tax Collector to tag your vehicle with an American Red Cross supporter plate.

Create a Legacy of Compassion
Legacy Society
members help ensure the future financial stability of this chapter by including their local Red Cross in their estate plan. To find out how you can become a Legacy Society member, please call our Gift Planning Officer Ken Fagan, toll-free, at 866-262-2755.

The Best Cup of Coffee You Can Have
Enjoy a cup of coffee and help us, too!
Go to or visit your American Red Cross online and order your blend of Polk County Chapter or Highlands Red Cross coffee or tea.
Fully 30 percent of each purchase you make goes to your local Red Cross.
So, drink up and enjoy being generous!

Read all about it in the News Chief!


Do you give blood? 

   The American Red Cross collects 50 percent of America's blood supply.
    In Florida, however, most local chapters do not collect blood, but work with local blood banks to promote blood drives to ensure a supply for disasters.
    Four blood banks cooperate with the American Red Cross Polk County Chapter and Highlands County Service Center. For information, contact your local blood bank.
    And if you are able, please give.

BloodNet Lakeland/west Polk Co.
Florida's Blood Centers
Highlands Co.
Florida Blood Services
Lakeland RMC
Blood Banks of Mid-Florida Medical Services
Winter Haven/east Polk Co.


Thanks for Flying the Colors that Help Others! in the Ride for the Red, Nov. 22, 2008

See the Fun we had that day!

Need gear? Get it here!
If you didn't get it on this Ride, order a Ride for the Red T-shirt, Lapel Pin, or Kick Stand Coaster HERE!


  Tremendous thanks to everyone who came out on Nov. 15, 2008, to Run for Relief, — hosted by Students in Free Enterprise at Southeastern University.
Half of the proceeds will benefit American Red Cross aid to hurricane victims.


Dear Friends,
   By now most of us are used to hearing the Mid-Florida Region name being tossed around by me, our regional Chief Operating Officer Jada Smith, your chapter CEO and the rest of the chapter staff. Itís mentioned in our annual reports, on press releases, at board meetings and on our websites.
   Itís been more than a year now since the four chapters within our region (Central Florida, Coast to Coast, Polk and Highlands County and Space Coast) began transitioning towards the concept and in that time Iíve embraced the idea of one Red Cross. The time has come to move on to the next level.
   As part of our One Red Cross National Initiative we wonít just be the American Red Cross Polk County Chapter, instead weíll be the American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region, Polk County Chapter. Itís not just us — the other chapters within our region will follow suit emphasizing the Mid-Florida Region name. Youíll see it in our e-mail addresses, on our letterhead, mentioned in the media and even on our buildings.
   It, of course, wonít ALL happen overnight. Itís a change weíll see over the next few months. But ultimately this will help us succeed in our mission and will help facilitate all aspects of the services we provide, from e-fundraising to responding to disasters.
   If you have any questions, please ask. In the meantime, I look forward to a fantastic new year and a new future as one American Red Cross.

Joel Hass
American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region
Chief Executive Officer


Change a Life — Yours!
Two women saved a Winter Haven toddler from drowning
Staff at Avon Park Middle School saved two students from choking

   Whether using CPR or First Aid, you can change a life, especially your own, by saving a life. Being able to respond to an emergency can make ordinary people into extraordinary heroes. Get trained in life-saving skills by your local American Red Cross today.
   Look up our Classes for First Aid, CPR, Babysitting, and Water Safety:

   News Chief: Two Women Help Save Boy


Please help the Disaster Relief Fund
As we welcome 2009, and look back at 2008, we remember those in need.
   The Disaster Relief Fund enables the Red Cross to provide free shelter, food, and counseling, and distribute emergency supplies to people who need it, whenever and wherever disasters occur. The services are possible through generous donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.
   2008 was a busy year. The American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund was completely drained by eight named storms making landfall in the United States, a record number of tornadoes, the worst Midwest flooding in 15 years, and an active wildfire season.
   Although large-scale disasters like Hurricanes and earthquakes grab headlines, house fires are the most common disaster to which The American Red Cross to responds.
   The recent issues with the economy affect us all. While communities continue to rebuild so does The American Red Cross and your continued support is needed to sustain our relief work and prepare for future disasters. Even a small donation can help those in need:
ē $25 - provides five blankets at an emergency shelter.
ē $75 - can cover a doctor's visit for an individual injured in a disaster.
ē $350 - provides emergency food & shelter for 25 disaster victims for one day.

We have tremendous thanks to those who've donated.
Look at what we've done this year: 2008 in Pictures

    Anyone can help by making a donation. Hereís how:
ē Visit in English or
 in Spanish
ē Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 for Spanish.
ē Text keyword GIVE (4483) to 2HELP (24357) to donate $5.
ē Contact your local chapter.

Learn more....


Highlands Red Cross Calls for Your Help
Service Center has 'wish list' for New Year

It's been a tough year for the Red Cross, and the Highlands county office is no exception. To help the office stay efficient at serving the people of Highlands County, the Red Cross has a wish list of items:

  • A dependable smaller-size vehicle, that doesn't use much gas and that doesn't need repairs first;
  • A Global Positioning System (GPS);
  • A couple of laptop computers with air cards to operate outside in the field;
  • A small trailer that can haul furniture, equipment or disaster supplies;
  • Volunteers for day-to-day operations
   "That's the life-blood (volunteers)," said Service Center Director Art Harriman. "I'm just one paid employee."
   Red Cross volunteers staff local shelters during hurricanes and help out with all types of disaster relief throughout the year both locally and nationally, as well as answering telephone calls and other help in the office.
   For more information, call (863) 386-4440. To make a local donation, write a check to the American Red Cross, write "Highlands County," in the memo line, and send it to 106 Medical Center Ave., Sebring, FL 33870 or drop it off. The office is located behind Highlands Regional Medical Center.


Come to the Highlands Red Cross Spring Garage Sale — Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009
7 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Highlands County Service Center
Highlands County Service Center flea market fundraiser, 106 Medical Center Ave., Sebring
  Shop for bargains to benefit the American Red Cross in Highlands County and find something special for your sweetheart: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009
  Donations to the garage sale may be dropped off at the Red Cross office, Floors Direct in Downtown Sebring, and at Frames and Images on U.S. 27 — or call the Red Cross office to arrange a pick-up. For more details, contact the Highlands Red Cross at (863) 386-4440 or


Hurricanes kept Red Cross hopping in 2008
Even without local landfall, hurricane season is busy for Polk

   In April 2008, revised predictions for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season were grim: a season of well-above average activity, with the likelihood of more than one hurricane making landfall in the United States.
   Sixteen storms reached tropical storm or hurricane strength. Eight hit the U.S., affecting Florida, North Carolina, Maine, Louisiana, and Texas.
   As a storm approaches, itís important for the American Red Cross to station close enough to provide immediate assistance, but far enough from the fury that relief workers donít become endangered themselves. To do this, volunteers must follow a stormís shifting path. Keeping volunteers and materials on the move is expensive. Hurricane Ike was one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. History and certainly an expensive storm for the Red Cross.
   The American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region had already mobilized 258 disaster relief workers to respond to Tropical Storm Fay and Florida chapters also sent people to help after Hurricane Gustav.
   In response to Hurricane Ike, your Polk County Chapter sent 98 volunteers to Texas within just 38 days, deploying in groups of two to 37 at a time. These volunteers gave almost 24,000 hours of their time to assist hurricane victims. One volunteer who deployed to assist with Tropical Storm Fay, also deployed to assist with Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
    As of November 25, 2008, the American Red Cross had mobilized 25,000 workers (92 percent volunteers) in response to hurricane season. Over 1,000 shelters and evacuation centers were opened and nearly 16 million meals and snacks were served nationwide.
   Although large-scale disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes grab headlines, house fires are the most common disaster to which the American Red Cross responds. The Polk County chapter was no exception. During the heaviest month of hurricane response, the chapter assisted 12 families, which included 27 adults, and 12 children who had been displaced by fires.
   As we enter into 2009, your local Red Cross is preparing to respond to local disasters and still needs your help. All Red Cross disaster relief is free, a gift from the American people, through donations of time and money. Please support your American Red Cross now, to keep us ready to respond before the next disaster.

  Read more in our Archives


Red Cross responds to sinkhole in 2008

Phil Attinger/American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers Linda Haskins (left) and Daphne Gray view sinkhole damage from a distance while Lake Wales survey crews investigate how far and fast the sinkhole is dropping.

LAKE WALES, FL (OCT 26, 2008) ó   On Oct. 26, 2008, the Red Cross provided temporary shelter for families after a sinkhole began dropping out from under homes near the corner of West Stuart Avenue and North Sharp Street in Lake Wales.
  Local authorities evacuated the families when they learned that the west end of a duplex had settled and cracked over what appeared to be a sinkhole. Red Cross volunteers with the Polk County Chapter helped 11 people: A family of four adults with an infant, a family of two adults, and a family of three adults and a child.
   Two other families living on the street were also evacuated for safety. One contacted the Red Cross and was assisted with temporary shelter.

Thanks, Volunteers, for the 'Jingle Bell Walk'
We had tremendous fun taking part in holiday parades this year, including Havendale, Haines City, and Bartow. Several volunteers and staff made it happen, from the people gathering volunteers, to the ERV drivers, to the walkers, all ringing jingle bells as they went.
  Public Relations Director Phil Attinger thanks everyone for taking a "Jingle Bell Walk."

Read all about it !



American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region, Polk County Chapter
147 Avenue A, NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881-4501
(863) 294-5941; Fax (863) 293-9626;

American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region, Highlands County Service Center
106 Medical Center Avenue, Sebring, FL 33870
(863) 386-4440, 386-4443; Fax (863) 386-4449;