One of the two families assisted by the Coastal S.C. Chapter of the American Red Cross after fires on Valentine’s Day included seven children from ages 2 to 16. Assistance with temporary lodging, food and clothing is a major area disaster service of the chapter, which has helped 366 people since last July 1. Nanci Conley, executive director of the chapter, says the number of people helped after home fires is up significantly. At this time a year ago, the number of fire victims was 208 in the chapter’s three-county (Georgetown, Horry, Williamsburg) service area.
The increased number of home fire victims is one of the reasons this year’s Heroes campaign has a goal of $180,000 – up $20,000. The sixth annual Heroes Kickoff is Feb. 26 at the Hard Rock Cafe at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach. It’s a new location for the kickoff and Conley says the format has been stepped up from previous kickoffs. The evening includes live entertainment, food stations and three auctions.
Conley says there is something for everyone in the Chinese, silent and live auctions. “We’ve got a lot” of items for the auctions, including beautiful baskets and packages for all levels. Bigger items for the live auction include a guitar signed by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, two music icons. Other items for the live auction include a golf cart which will be customized to the buyer’s specifications and a three-day Memphis package that includes VIP tickets to Graceland, the Elvis Presley estate.
The Heroes Kickoff is a fun evening that raises money for one of the area’s vital safety net nonprofit organizations. Importantly, the fundraiser is also about “everybody coming together,” Conley says, which emphasizes Red Cross chapter operations – volunteers coming together to help their neighbors. Like most nonprofit organizations, the Red Cross chapter is built on volunteers – folks who may contribute up to 40 hours a week or a few hours a month. The chapter consistently has about 250 trained volunteers and is always in need of new ones. It keeps up with the constant need for new volunteers with monthly orientation programs.
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The chapter has expanded its services to home fire victims with services such as professional counseling, referrals and developing a recovery plan for up to 90 days after a fire. The Red Cross contacts employers and schools to advise them of the fire and the victims’ situation. School workers may ask what they can do to help and the chapter volunteer may suggest an event to help the family.
The Coastal S.C. Chapter provides vital services to residents of Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties. It is an agency of United Way organizations in Georgetown and Horry counties, receiving United Way allocations totaling $83,000. The chapter’s total annual operating budget is approximately $650,000. Events like next week’s Heroes Kickoff are critical to vital Red Cross services.