Raising a flag to the Red Cross

By Jillian Marshall

March 7, 2014 Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 7:51 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) March is Red Cross Month and in honor of the national organization, its flag will wave in front of Government Plaza in Binghamton for the rest of the month.

In 1943 Franklin D. Roosevelt declared March National Red Cross Month. And now, 71 years later, state, county and city officials raised the American Red Cross flag in front of Government Plaza Friday afternoon.

The American Red Cross focuses on disaster relief, service to the armed forces, and education.

"Whether it's a blanket, or a food, or safety, a home to stay in, room to stay in after a fire, Red Cross is there," said Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R).

This not-for-profit organization's staff is 97 percent made up of volunteers. In the Southern Tier, close to 450 volunteers help aid with blood drives and flood and fire relief.

Forty percent of the nations blood supply comes from the Red Cross. The Southern Tier Chapter of the American Red Cross holds numerous blood drives throughout the year, but so far in 2014, the turnout and collection of blood, has been lackluster compared to other years.

"This past winter has been extremely cold and we've had a lot of snow and then people hibernate. So the need does not stop," said Shelley Bierwiler, Community Executive of the Southern Tier American Red Cross.

In the past week, there have been several fires in the Southern Tier. At each burning home, the Red Cross was there - ready to help.

"We assist with their most urgent needs, so it would be clothing, food, shelter, emotional support," Bierwiler said.

Bierwiler said the flag serves as more than a symbol of National Red Cross Month, she said it's a reminder to the community, and anyone who passes by, that the Red Cross will always be there.

"Many times we often don't think of the American Red Cross until their services are needed. But make no mistake, they play a vital role in helping our community to recover from many disasters," said County Executive Debbie Preston (R).

According to Bierwiler, the Southern Tier Chapter is in need of financial and blood donors.

Click here to find out more about how you can help.

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