Red Cross working to recruit contacts

American Red Cross personnel in McPherson County are seeking to work with Marion County people to form local contacts for help in times of disaster and trouble.

“It doesn’t have to take a national disaster for Red Cross to bring help,” said Shelley Abbott-Becker, director of Marion County Communications and director for emergency preparedness.

“I have seen them help at several different levels, including phone calls after a crisis just for morale support. The Red Cross has been and is here for us.”

Becker said she has been working for Marion County since May 1989, and has seen the Red Cross come out of McPherson County to the aid of Marion County residents during those years. But has seen it be especially active in the last two years.

“We have done a lot of taking from the Red Cross,” Becker said.

According to Patti Robinson, director of the Sunflower Chapter of the Red Cross, which includes McPherson and Marion counties, more than $29,000 was been spent in Marion County last year compared to just over $6,000 in McPherson


She said the program is funded by McPherson United Way, but without a United Way program in Marion County, the only way to “give back” is through private and business donations.

Robinson said she had sent letters to area businesses, but had not received much of a response.

“I don’t think people realize all that we do,” Robinson said. She began to list instances in which Red Cross had come to the aid of Marion County, including accidents and fires to which Red Cross teams brought drinks and sandwiches, as well as a central point for rescue personnel to gather and rest as needed.

Besides helping rescue workers in crisis situations, the Red Cross also puts families in motels after a fire and supplies them with “comfort kits” which include items such as a toothbrushes, soap and other personal items.

“We house families whether they have any insurance to cover costs or not,” Robinson said. “Of course we hope insurance will refund us, but even if they don’t, we cover it for the families.

In addition to crisis services, the Red Cross offers baby-sitting classes, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation classes, and other educational supports within the county.

Robinson and Becker are working together to establish local contacts for immediate care when needed in Marion County.

Becker said not only had Marion being using McPherson volunteers, but their resources and supplies as well.

The two women would like to form a group within Marion County which would seek resources from local volunteers and businesses.

“They have brought coffee and doughnuts over,” Becker said. “It would make sense for us to have our own resources in place when needed instead of having them bring them over.”

Robinson said their group has made arrangements with late-night stores to pick up coffee and doughnuts or sandwiches when needed.

While late-night stores are limited in Marion County, Becker said a prearranged agreement would make it possible for things to begin to happen when notification was given of a crisis within the county.

Becker hopes to form a response group with two people from Marion, Peabody, Hillsboro and every other community in Marion County.

She said several people have already shown interest in such a group.

Robinson said it would be a good thing if residents of Marion County asked themselves, “If what happened in Hoisington happened in Marion County, would you be ready?”

“You need to be prepared,” Robinson said.

For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering or making a donation, contact Robinson at 620-241-2386 or write to: Red Cross, 1023 S. Main, McPherson, KS 67460.

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