Local News

Giving back

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Editor's note: WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.

Imagine getting less than six hours' notice to pack for a three-week trip, get your affairs at home in order, and get on the road?

That’s exactly what American Red Cross disaster relief volunteers do.

Many of them are retired and have the ability to drop everything at a moment’s notice and come. But equally as many have small businesses or have employers that allow them to donate their time.

They walk away from their lives and help.

This kind of volunteerism is something we need more of in the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, but let’s face it: People have jobs, children and responsibilities, and can’t always get away.

This is why the American Red Cross is doing on-the-job training in the field.

Approximately 5,800 people are working for the Red Cross in the Northeast on storm relief. Many of them are people who have never done anything like this before, but they show up, get a crash training course, and are put to work.

One of these people is James Kelly.

Kelly, an Emergency Medical Technician, was working during the storm. When he got home, an oak tree had fallen on his house in Howell Township, N.J. His home was condemned and his car was destroyed.

But instead of wallowing in his own loss, Kelly decided to volunteer his time with the Red Cross when he wasn’t on the job as an EMT.

"Why?" people asked him. "Why would you volunteer when you have lost so much?"

Kelly tells them that it’s what he knows how to do – to help people. And like so many other volunteers, he says he gets so much solace from giving, so much more than he gets from receiving.

These Red Cross volunteers set such a great example for the rest of us.

As one person said to me today, when tragedy strikes, the world we live in shrinks.

Human suffering, no matter where it is, touches us all.

We want to help, and we don’t always know how to do so.

Believe me, if you’re interested in helping, the Red Cross will put you to work.

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