Red Cross consolidating centers, San Diego location included - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Red Cross consolidating centers, San Diego location included

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The American Red Cross announced Monday that it is consolidating its emergency call centers into four locations, and the one in San Diego will be the only one west of the Mississippi River.

The program is used frequently by families of military members who need to send messages about a birth, death in the family, serious illness or other emergency.

"As a combat veteran and with such a large military population in San Diego, I can't express enough what an honor it is for our chapter to be one of four chapters managing the hundreds of thousands of emergency calls received each year," said Joe Craver, chief executive of the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter.

He said the service benefited him 44 years ago.

"In 1967, while I was flying a combat tour in Vietnam, my father passed away," Craver said. "Thanks to the American Red Cross Service to the armed forces program, I was able to be with my family during that difficult time."

Military families who need to pass along messages can call the Red Cross at (877) 272-7337.

The San Diego center currently handles about 51,000 messages per year. That number is expected to grow to 170,000 by the end of 2012, according to the Red Cross.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for the expanded call center in Kearny Mesa next week.

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