Share Holiday Cheer!

The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is an avenue for people to share their appreciation of those who have served our country. The goal is to give service members and Veterans a little holiday cheer by presenting them with letters and cards of thanks.

This year, we are collecting hand-made or store bought cards. Plus, we have JUMBO cards around the state and at special events for residents to sign.  We kicked-off the campaign at the state Capitol.  Cards received by December 11th will be sorted and then presented at common Wisconsin venues, military installations, VA Hospitals, State Veteran Homes and more.

IMG_2134Get in the holiday spirit and send us your best cards! We’ll do the rest!  Here are few guidelines to get you going:

What is the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program? Since 2006, the American Red Cross has received and distributed nearly 10 million holiday cards for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Veterans. The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season by signing and sending cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our U.S. Armed Forces and Veterans.

I don’t know anyone in the military; how do I participate? You don’t need to know anyone in the military. Red Cross workers will distribute signed cards from the community to members of the military and Veterans right here in Wisconsin.

Cards are not addressed to anyone specific, so who gets these cards? We will distribute cards to service members and Veterans throughout Wisconsin. Cards will be handed to service members and Veterans, or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

Can I drop cards off at my local Red Cross office? Yes, your created cards can be dropped off by December 11th at your local Red Cross office or even better mail them to: American Red Cross, 4860 Sheboygan Avenue, Madison, WI 53705

Will my card be distributed to our troops overseas? Our National office has shipped cards to military bases around the globe so your cards will make the holiday brighter throughout Wisconsin.

What is the goal for the 2015 Holiday Mail for Heroes Program? The goal is to share season’s greeting and holiday cheer to the members of our Armed Forces and Veterans, creating millions of smiles.

Are there other restrictions and guidelines for cards? In order to make cards as meaningful as possible to a wide audience, choose or create  “Happy Holiday” cards and use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member, or Veteran” when writing cards.  Cards should not contain:

  • Glitter that could aggravate existing health issues.
  • Enclosures such as money calling cards, photos, or other gifts.
  • Complete mailing address.  (City and State are okay)
  • Email addresses.

Can I include money in the cards? Please do not enclose money with the holiday cards. If you wish to provide financial support for Red Cross services to the military, please donate online.

How can I find out more information about the Holiday Mail program?

Stayin’ Alive with Hands-Only CPR

By: PaKou Lee, Red Cross volunteer and RCYP member

Get CPR Red-y this fall with our Red Cross Young Professionals Group of NEW (RCYP).


Our one year of RCYP is coming up at the end of September and we want to celebrate it with YOU! As part of our mission to Give, Guide and Provide, we are giving back to our community by teaching hands-only CPR!

Please join us on Wednesday, September 30th at the Red Cross Appleton Office! Get trained on how to #SaveALife in only 10 minutes. Enjoy food and drinks with the RCYP members, local volunteers and guests. Learn more about what we do as young professionals in the Northeast WI community and how you can be part of the club! (Don’t be nervous – we’re laid back and fun! I promise!)

Sign up now! Don’t forget to bring a friend! For questions, please contact Jennessa Heiting,
(For a larger view, click on the image).

CPR Red-y

We also want to share with you some of our highlights from our first year!

  • We started with our kick-off party last September and created holiday cards for the Holiday Mail for H11201835_839042179537301_5780583661192536279_neroes campaign in November.
  • We volunteered for Dancing with Our Stars 2015 main event- working backstage for social media and videos, collecting votes and recording the dances.
  • RCYP raised $500 for the Red Cross – we filled out the Best of the Bay results for the Press-Gazette and co-hosted with Current for an networking event.
  • We hosted a Thank-a-Thon- called local sponsors to thanked them for their donations and spread awareness about Giving Day.
  • We also volunteered for the Packers 5k at the water station and recently worked with youths for the Pillowcase Project, guiding children on creating a pillowcase kit for fire safety and needs.
  • RCYP took 2nd place in Current’s Bench Challenge, hosted by the Green Bay Area Habitat Young Professionals. All thanks to Ben and Dan for building the bench and taking a selfie!
  • One of our members, Dan Terrio is a part of the Dancing with Our Stars 2016 campaign and we are ready to show our support!

We hope to see you on the 30th! Don’t forget to bring a friend! For questions, please contact Jennessa Heiting,

RCYP enjoying an outside evening concert, hosted by Heritage Hill.

RCYP enjoying an outside evening concert, hosted by Heritage Hill.

Canada’s Wildfire Relief Efforts Supported by Hometown Gal

The Canadian and the American Red Cross joined forces to support 10,000 Saskatchewan wildfire evacuees, this Brenda’s story.

By Brenda Haney, American Red Cross Volunteer

On July 7, 2015 the Red Cross asked if I would represent the U.S. on an International Deployment to Canada. I agreed to go although I had only been home for a week from a deployment in Louisiana.

Diana O’Neill and I left Madison and flew to Edmonton, Alberta on July 8th. We made it through Customs and travelled five hours by bus to Cold Lake, Alberta. Once there we assisted with a shelter with approximately 600 people of several different native Canadian Bands.

Due to the large number of evacuations they were loaded on buses with only the clothes on their backs and bused six hours from Saskatchewan to Cold Lake, Alberta.  The City of Cold Lake opened up one of their buildings to accommodate the people coming in. There were many challenges dealing with this many people and the different cultures.

After two days Diana and I were promoted to shelter managers. We worked 12 hour shifts, both day and night. We were warmly welcomed by our counterparts with the Canadian Red Cross. We worked closely with the government officials to ensure a safe shelter operation.

There were several health issues that required the use of hotels and campgrounds as alternate shelters.

On the 11th day of our deployment we were given the “all clear” to start sending people home. In just two days we had everyone accounted for and on their way back home to Saskatchewan.

The tear down began and the massive task of tearing down cots began. We loaded all the cots in semis and hired a cleaning company to clean and sterilize everything.

It is time to take a break as this was my 5th deployment of 2015. Deployment number three was a driving trip to Texas. Diana and I drove over 4,000 miles roundtrip in the Emergency Relief Vehicle going from Madison to San Marcos, TX to assist with flooding.

I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met on these Red Cross deployments. I am happy that I have been able to help people in their time of need.

A collection of our 1st International Deployment memorabilia will be displayed at the Madison Red Cross Office.

To begin your American Red Cross adventure, please visit

Are You AED Prepared?


Know what AED stands for?

Know the purpose of having an AED?

AED stands for…

Automated External Defibrillator

It is a medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm.

If necessary, it delivers an electrical shock, known as defibrillation, which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

Timing is Crucial.

8-12 minutes: the average response time for first responders once 911 is called.

1 minute of delayed defibrillation = 10% decrease of survival rate


3 Easy Steps to Save a Life

  1. Be Red Cross Ready- Get the training you need to use an AED and how to respond in emergency situations. With the proper training and knowledge, potentially 50,000 lives can be saved per year.
  2. Contact Terry Roe if you would like to purchase an AED (email: or phone# 715-590-4495 ). There are 4 different AED options to choose from.
  3. Be Inspired- Watch this incredible and touching story about how 2 UW Health nurses were able to save a woman’s life by using the AED, brought to you by WKOW 27 in Madison, WI.

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Screen shot 2015-08-13 at 10.45.36 PMScreen shot 2015-08-13 at 10.48.00 PM

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Two States + Two Disasters = One Team

Mary Gagnon

Mary Gagnon

For six non-stop weeks, the Texas weather was dreadful. Residents were experiencing multiple tornadoes, large hail, heavy rainfall and flooding causing the dams to breach. More than 100 counties were affected by this treacherous weather. (Wisconsin only has 72-counties; so this was a massive area) American Red Cross chapters throughout Texas helped residents affected by opening 60 shelters, served more than 350,000 meals and snacks and engaged 2,300 trained Red Cross responders. Wisconsin provided 42 responders; this is the first-hand story of our own Mary Gagnon.


On June 15, the Red Cross asked my husband Dean and I to deploy to Houston, Texas to help with disaster relief. Both of us volunteer with the Red Cross and reside in Texas AND Wisconsin. We arrived on the 16th and were reminded immediately of the heat and humidity that sends us back north each spring.

After a week of providing shelter and food near Houston, we were reassigned to the Rio Grande Valley, near the tip of Texas. Coincidentally, this general area is where we live during the winter. And our ‘hometown’ Red Cross Chapter there became headquarters.Flooded road, Edinburg, TX

There were so many people with so few personal resources. Residents told us of flood waters three feet deep in their homes and side streets were impassable for days. When we found an unflooded driveway, we parked the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), which contained water, food and hygiene kits. There, we asked people to phone neighbors down the street to let them know we were there to help. Invariably, word travelled fast, and people lined-up to receive what they needed and wanted: hot food, bottled water, Clorox, shovels and mosquito repellant.

Cruz Roja at Edinburg shelter

When there were still items remaining in the ERV, which is a large ambulance sized vehicle so we could haul large amounts of supplies, we drove to a nearby street and started the process again.

Steve Stringer with Cruz Roja in Edinburg-2

The American Red Cross increased its staffing resources when Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) arrived. As the flooding decreased and people could get out of their homes, the Cruz Roja site provided necessary cleaning materials and, just as importantly, the ability to respond in Spanish to needs and stories provided by those flooded out of their homes. We felt fortunate to work with Cruz Roja! They understood the community needs; the difficulties of the weather and the support needed to bring back ‘normalcy’ to Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.


The following week, on our way back to the local Red Cross Chapter to re-fill our ERV with cases of water and clean-up materials, we stopped at a gas station. The search-and-distribute system of helping home owners during the recent Texas floods brought much-needed supplies directly to people considering the scorching 96 degree weather. This system created a need for us to get just a few minutes of rest. An ice cream bar and air conditioning altered my core temperature just enough to make getting back on the road OK. But it was the unexpected ‘coolness’ of hearing The Spinners singing on the store’s music system that recouped my energy! With only the bathroom mirror watching, I danced to ‘Rubber Band Man’ with all of my best ‘60s and 70s moves.

And Coolness was achieved.


Upon returning to Wisconsin for the ‘summer’ they were deployed to Columbus, Wisconsin to open an evacuation center/shelter for people affected by the July 13th 90-mile per hour winds. Two (states) plus two (disasters) really can equal ONE RED CROSS. To begin your own Red Cross adventure, please check here for volunteer opportunities.

Beloit’s Late Night Hereos

By Carolyn Kuzuhara

When walls come tumbling down and dozens of residents are evacuated in the middle of the night, who comes to help at a moment’s notice? The American Red Cross is the answer.


In Beloit, there was a wall that collapsed onto the Brittan House, a transitional housing facility, early in the morning. The Brittan House is located in downtown Beloit, the building is 140 years old and is home to 45 residents. The Beloit Fire Department was called to the scene and deemed the building unsafe for residents because the east side of the building was weakened from the collapse. The residents had to vacate the building for safety purposes. At this point, no one was injured and with safety being most important,a full-evacuation was ordered.

Meanwhile, the local Red Cross responders arrived at the Brittan House while another team opened a shelter. The Beloit Transit System provided transportation from the Brittan House to the McLenegan Elementary School. With Memorandums of Understanding already in place with the Beloit School District, the shelter was ready upon the bus arrival. The Red Cross provided a place to rest, emotional support, hygiene kits and our health service professionals to fulfill health emergencies due to the stress of the situation.

The next morning, our team supplied a hot breakfast for the residents as they waited for the building to be deemed safe for residents to return. Thankfully, engineers and local officials deemed the building structurally sound. We then assisted residents back to their home. We are thankful for the Beloit Fire Department, Beloit School District and the Beloit Transit System for their collaborative efforts. This emergency situation highlights how our community works together to help their neighbors no matter what time it is.

See footage from the Regional CEO at the site of the wall collapse. 

Tom Mooney, Regional CEO, and Dan Stauffacher, McLenegan School Safety Coordinator

Tom Mooney, Regional CEO, and Dan Stauffacher, McLenegan School Safety Coordinator at the location of the shelter.

None of this would be possible without our 24-hour a day trained volunteers, partners and generous donators. To become involved and support the Red Cross in your community, please visit

Wisconsin Red Cross Helps in Texas, Oklahoma

Texas and Oklahoma are feeling the devastating effects of weeks of heavy rain, tornadoes and flooding and the American Red Cross is there, helping people in the Lone Star State get back on their feet.


American Red Cross Texas Storm 2015 Response. Click for a full sized image.

The storms have impacted about 35 percent of the state, destroying or damaging thousands of homes. The Red Cross is providing shelter, food, water, relief supplies, health services and emotional support to people in need.

Since early May, hundreds of Red Cross workers, including 33 from Wisconsin, have opened 37 shelters, served more than 34,000 meals and snacks and handed out more than 33,000 relief items and cleaning supplies in Texas. In addition, 40 emergency response vehicles, three from Wisconsin are distributing food and relief items in the affected communities and additional volunteers and vehicles are on alert if needed.

Let’s listen to a few of our volunteers, courtesy of our TV partners:

If you don’t have the time to volunteer, please consider a financial gift.


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