RICHMOND, Va. -- A pandemic doesn't stop emergencies, so the American Red Cross has remained busy helping people.
"There is nothing that COVID-19 hasn't touched in the Red Cross, which really forced us as an organization to be nimble and to vary how we deliver services to the community,” said Jonathan McNamara, the communications director for the Red Cross in Virginia.
McNamara said the organization has had to find new ways to keep volunteers safe, donors coming in and to respond to disasters across the nation. He said community support and volunteers have been vital in helping the organization maintain its level of service.
“I'm really proud of our volunteers for being flexible and being willing to try new things," said McNamara.
Donors like Virginia Commonwealth University student, Carson Sturgis, stepped up. She started giving blood at the beginning of the pandemic.
"I can't always donate money, cause I'm a college student, but I can donate blood when healthy," said Carson.
Kendal Dill is also a VCU student. She has been volunteering since September.
“I am privileged enough to have extra time on my hands, so I just feel like donating my time is a really great way to help out the people in need," said Kendall.
McNamara said the need is big.
“There are patients here in Virginia who need blood each and every day, whether it's a sickle cell patient or somebody at VCU’s children’s hospital. They can't wait for blood," said McNamara.
In addition to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis the Red Cross must also stay ready and prepared for other disasters.
"This has been the busiest year for the Red Cross. We've had more billion-dollar disasters this year than any other year in recorded history with the American Red Cross in the United States," said McNamara.
McNamara said when the usual donations sites like churches and schools were forced to shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, places like Richmond’s Downtown YMCA opened the door so the Red Cross could continue its operations.
“It’s essential for us to exist and to help people each and every day,” he said.
“The need is extensive because as were seeing more people go back into a somewhat sense of normal, we're going to see an increase in the need for blood donations." McNamara added.
You can find more information on how to help the Red Cross by visiting the RedCross.org.