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Red Cross leaps to action after Albany fires

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - With two recent fires displacing over 70 people, the community, along with the Red Cross, chipped in to help.

The volunteers may not seem like much, but during a disaster, it could make all the difference to a child.

“The kids just look at those and their eyes just light up,” Tommy Smith, a Red Cross Volunteer, said.

Mickey Mouse is just one of the items that were given out on scene during the Sheridan Avenue and the Quail Street fire. When the Red Cross first arrived, they said their first step was getting the volunteers in place.

“The larger events are difficult because we have to wake volunteers up. It’s difficult to get people out of bed sometimes. The best part about the volunteers we have is that so many people are willing to get up,” Patrick Kelsey, a Red Cross Volunteer, said.

During the time of the fires, a total of eight volunteers were working to help 77 victims. They say one of the challenges they face is verification for someone who has lost everything.

“They can’t identify themselves they can’t prove who they are. So we have to rely on other sources. Sometimes it’s the landlord if the landlord is local. In this case, it was the Chaplain from the fire department who verified it,” Jim Ambrose, Red Cross Volunteer, said. 

Some volunteers on scene worked up to 14 hours, handed out kits, and provided water to firefighters on scene. 

“The biggest thing is that we provide financial assistance. We give sort of what looks like a debit card, but it has money preloaded on it that people can use to cover basic necessities,” Red Cross Chief Communication’s Officer Kimmy Venter said.

While the Red Cross was on the scene, CDTA was also there providing buses as shelter for people to stay warm.

“We had the bus on Quail Street yesterday completely full. So they really took advantage of it. It provided us with the support to give them some privacy. They really deserve a lot of attention, and a lot of thank yous,” Ambrose said.

If you would like to get involved, the Red Cross is always excepting donations. You can go to your local Red Cross or visit RedCross.org.


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