Red Cross response in 2021: Families face emergency needs amid COVID-19, climate change and global conflict

Last Updated on December 1, 2021 by American Red Cross

In 2021, people in the Indiana Region and across the country faced great emergency needs as the ongoing pandemic exacerbated the challenges related to severe disasters, blood shortages and global conflict.

“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” said Chad Priest, CEO of the American Red Cross – Indiana Region. “This holiday season, join us to provide help and hope in these difficult moments by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”

Visit redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also learn about volunteer opportunities in their area and give back in honor of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, whose 200th birthday will be commemorated on December 25.

RELENTLESS DISASTERS COMPOUND COVID-19 STRUGGLES 2021 marked one of the country’s most active years for severe weather — which battered many communities still reeling from last year’s disasters. For thousands of people in need, the American Red Cross launched a new major relief effort every 11 days to provide refuge, food and care.

This year, a family displaced by a disaster in the U.S. spent an average of nearly 30 days in a Red Cross-supported emergency shelter. These extended stays were largely due to a lack of savings and community housing shortages — signs that climate-driven disasters are compounding the financial hardships of the pandemic.

COVID-19 STRAINS BLOOD SUPPLY FOR PATIENTS To meet the increasing needs of hospital patients, the Red Cross distributed 250,000 more blood products in 2021 than last year, until the delta variant began to spread in August. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year — one of the largest year-to-year decreases that could threaten essential medical care for patients. Locally, the Indiana Region has experienced more than a 18% decrease in new blood donors this year.

As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. Blood donations are desperately needed now to meet the needs of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

GLOBAL CONFLICT CREATES MASS NEEDS FOR DISPLACED FAMILIES Around the world, massive humanitarian needs emerged in 2021 for a growing number of families displaced by the overlapping challenges of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change. This year, at the request of federal government partners, Red Cross workers from the Indiana Region and across the country distributed more than 2.1 million essential items — like blankets, diapers, medicine and toys — for Afghan evacuees arriving on U.S. military bases and unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

At Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Ind., evacuees from Afghanistan often had nothing but the clothes on their backs after facing perilous journeys. Volunteers provided refugees with essential items such as clothes, shoes, blankets, and other items for their temporary stay.

About Our Regional Holiday Supporters:The Red Cross is grateful for corporate partners who contribute to our Holiday Campaign. They include regional partners IndyCar and Star Financial Bank. Thanks to the generosity of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to bring help and hope to people in need.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

SOURCE: News release from American Red Cross