Monday, June 9, 2008

I was interested in how some of our local charities began and how they help people. Here’s a list of three major social service/disaster relief organizations and a brief run-down, followed by local Brainerd area links.

The Red Cross is mainly known for blood donations. The American Red Cross was established on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton. Clara (1821-1912) was a a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the Civil War broke out. (She started teaching around the age of 15 or 16.) After the civil war, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a vacation. There she became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and was determined to bring the organization home to America. Each year, the American Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters, including fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions, and other natural and man-made disasters. American Red Cross focuses on meeting people's immediate emergency needs. The Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and mental health services. A major misconception is that the American Red Cross provides medical facilities, search and rescue operations, or deploys ambulances to disaster areas. The American Red Cross does not engage in these first responder activities.

Local Red Cross Website:

The United Way of America, is based in Alexandria, Virginia, and is a non-profit organization that works with over 1,300 local United Way offices throughout the country. The focus of United Way is identifying and resolving community issues, as well as making changes in the communities through partnerships with schools, government agencies, businesses, organized labor, financial institutions, community development corporations, voluntary and neighborhood associations, the faith community, and others. The issues United Way focuses on are determined locally because of the diversity of the communities served. United Ways identify and build on community strengths and assets, help individuals and groups with specific community interests find ways to contribute their time and talents, support direct-service programs and community-change efforts, and advocate public policy changes.

Local United Way Website:

The Salvation Army is a Christian charity and church that is internally organized like a military service. It’s most recognized during the Christmas season with volunteers who stand outside of businesses ringing bells to inspire passersby to place donations inside red kettles. Its founders William and Catherine Booth sought to bring Christian salvation to the poor, destitute, and hungry by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs. The Salvation Army was founded in London's East End in the year 1865 by Methodist minister William Booth. Originally, Booth named the organization the Christian Mission, but in 1878 Booth reorganized the mission along military lines when his son Bramwell objected to being called a volunteer. The name became The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is well-known for its network of Thrift Stores or Charity Shops, which raise money for its activities by selling donated used items such as clothing, housewares, and toys. The Salvation Army has a history of free rehabilitation from alcohol and drug abuse. Thrift stores provide the revenue to run the Adult Rehabilitation Centers known as ARCs.

Local Salvation Army Website:

Information taken in part from Wikipedia.


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