SAN DIEGO — If you're still searching for a New Year's resolution, the American Red Cross would like to offer a suggestion. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Kearny Mesa where volunteers are needed. When Americans are challenged by the worst, often times, that's where you'll find American Red Cross volunteers at their best.
"You feel like you are doing something that is giving back to the community," said Linda Baker. She was a legal secretary for 57 years and now greets people at the blood donation door with a smiling face. "When I retired, I was looking for something to occupy my time I didn't want to become a vegetable in front of the TV," said Linda.
During the coronavirus pandemic, families continue to depend on local volunteers every day for emergency support, including assistance after local disasters, help for military service members and their families, providing lifesaving blood to local hospitals, and so much more.
Volunteers make the non-profit organization go and the Red Cross needs fresh blood. Tim and Gina Glover are husband and wife stat drivers who volunteer to rush blood to hospitals.
"I get to tell him where to go and she is excellent at it," laughed Gina and Tim. She is in charge of the directions. He does the driving.
No matter your background, the Red Cross wants to sign you up. "It doesn't take that much to help out," said Patrick Lloyd. He worked in the aerospace industry and doesn't mind being an overqualified volunteer. "At the residents' request we are invited into their homes to install smoke detectors," said Patrick. "You just go to the Red Cross website and just follow the instructions there."
Julie and John Stone never dreamed volunteering would lead to disaster deployments across America. "I've been to Alaska, North and South Carolina and Baton Rouge," said John.
The retired couple always wanted to take a road trip to help hurricane victims. "We drove a truck from here in San Diego out to New York City to respond to Sandy. It was a food truck, so we were feeding people out of a food truck window," said Julie.
One of the best-known volunteers is News 8's Sports Director Kyle Kraska. "How many blood drives have I organized? I think I'm up to 13 now," said Kyle. His next Celebration of Heroes event will be held at the Pechanga Arena on February 10 and 11, six years to the date after Kyle was shot and needed 14 units of blood to survive.
Volunteering is Kyle's way of paying all of those units of blood back and more. How many has he helped collect? "Well over a thousand. Yeah, it's been over a thousand units of blood that we've been able to get from this wonderful community," said Kyle.
It's an accomplishment that wouldn't be possible without an army of Red Cross volunteers. "They are there because they want to help people, I think it takes a special person to be a volunteer, I really do, it's that person who is so giving of their own time and so thoughtful," said Kyle.
"It's extremely fulfilling and just a wonderful way to give back to the community," said Gina Glover.
"We've delivered blood, we have served food, we have driven from one coast to the other," said Julie Stone. "Whatever your talents are there is a spot for you."
"There is a place for everybody to help... they don't let you fail, they make you win, "said Tim Glover.
"I'd say give it a try. The Red Cross trains you. It's not only fun but extremely fulfilling," said Patrick Lloyd.
For more information about volunteering for the American Red Cross Southern California Region, click here.