A Recipe for Disaster Preparedness

Marie Nordahl, Red Cross Youth Engagement Intern, helps kids practice calling 9-1-1. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)
Marie Nordahl, Red Cross Youth Engagement Intern, helps kids practice calling 9-1-1. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)

What happens when you put 12 high school students in charge of 50 five- and six-year-olds? You might think it’s a recipe for disaster. But on Thursday, January 31, at Chelsea Heights Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota, this match-up was a great recipe for disaster preparedness.

The high school students, who are part of the Future Educators Club at Como Park High School in St. Paul, worked with the Red Cross to plan an Elementary Prepare Fair – an opportunity for young kids to learn about calling 9-1-1, preventing basic injuries, tornado safety and other important topics.

High school students Dominic and Stephen talked to kindergarteners about fire safety, explaining that fire is very hot and that only adults should handle it. Dominic then taught the kids how to stop, drop, and roll, demonstrating what to do and leading the kids through a practice run. The kids giggled as they watched Dominic roll across the carpet and under a table decorated with red paper flames, then tried it themselves.

Dominic, a Como Park High School student, demonstrates how to stop, drop and roll. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)
Dominic, a Como Park High School student, demonstrates how to stop, drop and roll. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)

Katie and Nicole taught students about poison safety using a bright poster and props. They showed students that some poisons – like cleaning products or adult medicines – look very similar to safe products, and explained to always ask an adult before eating or drinking something that may be unsafe.

At a nearby table, kids had the opportunity to practice calling 9-1-1 on bright red play phones. “9-1-1, what is your emergency?” the phone prompted. “There’s a fire in my house!” a kindergartener responded. The high school students then asked him his name and address, coaching him on what to tell the 9-1-1 operator. “Great job! High five!” they praised when the pretend call was complete.

Katie and Nicole from the Como Park Future Educators Club talk with kids about safe substances versus poisons in the home. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)
Katie and Nicole from the Como Park Future Educators Club talk with kids about safe versus poison substances. (Photo credit: Lisa Joyslin/American Red Cross)

At the end of the fair, the elementary students received colorful achievement certificates, which were prepared and signed by the Future Educators.

The Elementary Prepare Fair is one of several new youth engagement projects for high school students who want to volunteer with the Red Cross, Northern Minnesota Region. Interested groups can contact Volunteer Resources at (612) 871-7676 or arctc.vsvolunteer@redcross.org to learn more and get involved.

Thank you to the fantastic Como Park Future Educators for their hard work and enthusiasm. Because of you, fifty young kids are better prepared for disasters and emergencies!

Story and photos by Lisa Joyslin, Volunteer Resources Director, American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region

“Welcome to the Red Cross, Mr. Klingel”

During World War II, Jim Klingel from West St. Paul, Minnesota, wanted to wear a uniform and serve his country. A perforated eardrum made him ineligible for the armed forces. His wife Henny was a Red Cross volunteer who learned about paid jobs working with soldiers and their families. Accepting a Red Cross job like this would mean leaving behind his family for a while and living “for the duration” nearly anywhere in the United States and perhaps overseas. After applications, physical exams, and interviews,  the Red Cross offered Jim an Assistant Field Director position, which he accepted. Below we share excerpts from Jim’s correspondence to his wife Henny and their friends. The letters help tell the story of how Jim became a Red Cross Man in uniform when he was needed most.

West St. Paul, Minnesota, July 5, 1943

A week ago today, Henny and I boarded a train for St. Louis, and last Friday morning we returned. It was a rather sudden trip, and resulted from negotiations commenced last January. The result was that, after a couple of interviews, etc., a chap shook hands with me and said “Welcome to the Red Cross, Mr. Klingel”. I’m to report to Washington D.C. August 9th to start my training and schooling, then to some Camp under supervision of several superiors for further training. After three months, I should be a “graduate” Assistant Field Director, and will then be assigned to some Army Camp.

The work itself, with the Red Cross, sounds very interesting. The Field Director’s job, as I presume many of you know, is to alleviate any troubled circumstances between someone in the service and his home as I understand it. When finally assigned, I will be stationed on an Army Post, and wear a regulation uniform. One thing that I understand will be appreciated is that I don’t have to find my own living quarters in Washington while attending school there. I understand that the Red Cross has sufficient living quarters for their classes there and that as one class completes its course and moves out, the next one moves in. I believe I’ll be in Washington only 15 days or so, but that should be long enough to take in some of the sights. After the three months are up, if possible, Henny and I hope to make some kind of arrangements so that we can live together near whatever Camp I’m at. There’s no way of being sure now, but my hunch is that I will be stationed in Texas someplace. That will be sometime in November.

All of this means that we are about to join the many others who are jumping around from place to place, with ever-changing addresses, living from suit-case, duffle-bag or what-have-you. It also means that, except for perhaps one more issue, the publication of the Kronical will become more irregular and infrequent than ever until the early part of November at least.


Washington D.C., August 12, 1943
Dearest Honey pie —

I’m down in the lounge after supper as janitor, caretaker, officer of the day or what have you. Primary duty is to take care of Spec. Delivery letters, telegrams, or telephone calls. (I’m hearing a radio program too that is talking about white gabardine pants.)

Seems to me I started to tell you about “My Day” a while back. I started to tell you about our classes, then thought instead I’d briefly outline all classes we have had so far. I think you’re familiar with nearly all of the stuff we have had thus far, but maybe not as thoroughly. First class was history from Henry Dunant’s the Battle of Solferino to 1929 and the Geneva Conference on Prisoners of War. One of our speakers was Vice Chairman of Domestic Service. The 7 primary Domestic Services are:
Disaster Relief & Civ. War Aid
Serv. to Armed Forces
First Aid
Blood Donors
Volunteer Spec. Serv. Corps.
(I’m trying to write this without resort to my notes, but I’ve had to peek a couple of times).

We had a long lecture on #2 – S.A.F. That’s the group I’m under – S.A.F. (Serv. Armed Forces). That’s quite a big service these days. We have also had some small talks on Field Director work. The fellow that gave the talk said there had been considerable confusion by many of the enlisted men insofar as Red Cross Men in uniform. He said that one fellow sat beside him on a train and finally asked him what the A.R.C. pin on his collar stood for. When he was told it meant Am. Red Cross he said “Oh, you’re one of those fellows that follows troops and gives them blood?” –

All next week we spend on Job Instruction (and I’m not fooling, it sounds tough) and Military Post Information and how we should dress, act, etc. One of the fellows was enumerating some of the problems that come up, like a guy that walks in and says “I think my wife is running around with another guy, and what can I do?” or “I’m not married but I just learned that my girl is going to have a baby so can it be arranged that we get married?” I guess there’s practically every kind of situation you can imagine.

They related one story of one soldier in the hospital – a very simple case, — who wasn’t getting better at all and wasn’t eating. The medical officer finally asked that a Red Cross worker take the case – they gave it to a Hosp. worker who finally found out that he had a letter 3 weeks before from his wife who said that the baby was sick & he had not heard from her since. He was sure the baby had died and that his wife didn’t want to write him about it while he was in the Hosp. The R.C. worker checked thru the Home Chapter & found the baby well and that the wife’s mail hadn’t been forwarded to the hospital. The fellow was out of the Hosp. in less than 1 week. There are stories like that one after the other that bring a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes.

Gosh, I’ve been writing so long I’m getting writer’s cramp.

Washington , D.C., August 19, 1943, Wed. Nite — 1:30 A.M.
Dearest Sweetheart —

You can see by the time & hour that this is being written, that it is going to be short & – I hope – sweet. We came home from down-town about 11:30 and I have since packed my box to send home. That took me a long time & I found I forgot one sock. I tucked that in along the side – you will see it if it stays in.

Today I received the letter you mailed yesterday noon – which is why I like air mail. I also received your Sunday Nite letter, so I’m not expecting one tomorrow, but I’m happy anyway. …next week we will be 400 miles apart!! — My whole winter uniform is in the box I’m sending home. Save my ration book (I mean use it but don’t turn it in) as I’m still a civilian. A.R.C. staff men in Military & Naval Welfare wear Army Officers Uniforms for the respect they will then command from the men. I have found out that the major part of our job will be practically social case-work, primarily in psychology. Some job, and I’m not fooling!

All my love — & you’re Wonderfuller
Nite Rascalian –

I’m at the breakfast table with a few minutes before classes this morning (Thurs.). Yesterday I bought some sox, & two new shirts while I was down town – and also bought a pair of shower slippers – you know, those big soles with a strap over the top.

 — Bustle Bustle Bustle —

Now I’m in class awaiting “last bell” – Think I’ve about covered everything. The weather is wonderful. All the southern boys are shivering – & I guess you would be cold at night too. It’s swell with me. We should get our reservations this afternoon which will get us to Camp Grant by Sunday night. We report for duty (?) at 8:00 A.M. Monday morning.

Tonight, or rather this afternoon at 4:00 we have uniform inspection to be sure we are all dressing correctly, then I have to dash down-down for my pants & reservations. The gang is talking about a boat-ride on the Potomac for tonight. It sure seems funny to think that day after tomorrow we are all going to be split up. Four of us are going to Camp Grant which will keep us together for two weeks more. Chick is one of them. We are looking forward to a good time on the train. There’s the bell darling – Bye for now –

Much Love — Jim

American Red Cross, Camp & Hospital Service Council, Camp Grant, Illinois, August 26, 1943 quote – There’s no time like the present – unquote.
Dear Bee & Jad –

“There’s no time like the present” means in this case that it is 9:30 A.M. and I’m one of five “trainees” here at Am. Red Cross Hdqts. for practical training. One of the fellows permanently stationed here (there are 6) is in charge of our instruction, and as he is very busy at the moment, I have a little free time. The girl just handed me your card, forwarded from Am. Univ. – Wash. D.C….

Here’s the “teacher” again —

Back again in 10 minutes – that was short.

My health is fine, and I’m holding out o.k. They sure gave us a heavy short course our 2 weeks in Washington. We are to spend 2 weeks here for what is called “continuation training”. Here we are actually in the Field Director’s office, on the Post, observing what actually goes on and “getting the hang” of the business. It is certainly fascinating work. The biggest job, or at least the most common case, is work on emergency furloughs. There are several of them every day. Last night we rushed a fellow to the train. His house is in N.Y. State and about 4:30 we had a wire from the Chapter in his home town that his mother was critically ill and was dying. This information is immediately turned over to the Military who decide whether a furlough should be granted. If a furlough is o.ked, and the soldier hasn’t enough money to get home & back we loan it to him, then help him to get home the quickest possible way. Some of the cases are pathetic. One chap left yesterday in a hurry. His wife had a baby @ 1:00 A.M. that died after three hours. He had to rush home to take care of the funeral etc. as his wife was alone and all broken up. Another’s father had been killed in an auto accident. Another was trying to get home somehow to marry the girl before the 9 months were gone. Some walk in and want to know what to do – They were married here last week and have a wife & family back home. One really runs the gamut of human relations here all right.

Where we go from here is still a mystery. It won’t be Florida though since we are in the mid-western area, and Fla. is in Eastern. It will probably be Texas, Okla., or some such southern state since there aren’t many Camps up north comparatively.

Here we go again with class. Please give my regards to Shirley & I hope she has a good time.


Camp Grant, Illinois, September 2, 1943
Darling honey-bun:

By now, how is the sore-throat? Mine is all gone, and has been for a couple of days. Gosh, this ribbon is sure dark isn’t it. It is so darn dark I can hardly see it. I’m punching this machine about as hard as I can too. As yet we have had no word as to when we go where we go. I hope it comes by tomorrow, although we thought sure we would hear today. So it goes in this game I guess – it is as Paul says “You shouldn’t allow yourself to be surprised by anything in the Red Cross—they are apt to wire you Monday and say ‘You left Saturday for so-and-so Texas’”

Everything goes well – tonight Chick, & I, being on O.D., and being too late getting done with things this afternoon, didn’t go into town for supper, but stayed out here at Camp and ate at the Officers Mess – the first time we tried it for an evening meal. We had soup (that always precedes lunch and supper to everyone even before you order) then roast prime ribs of beef with lyonnaise (fried to me) potatoes, salad, fresh asparagus, cake and iced tea. There was no choice of menu for supper, but there is at noon and at breakfast I guess.

Oh gosh, tomorrow is Friday, and we get three shots. One typhus, one typhoid, and one small pox. I’ll be glad when they are all over, but I guess it will take about three months or so, since there are three of each except small-pox, and they are spaced three weeks apart. We have only had one typhus so far. It will be just my luck to have the darned shots take good effect tomorrow, and then have to lug that heavy suitcase all around Saturday en route to I don’t know where yet.

Don’t you think my winter uniforms look swell? By the way, here is another little “house-wifey” job you can do if you want to. I need, or will need, some arm shields in the coat so I won’t ruin it the first month. If you can get some and put them in it would be fine. I sure think the little “JKs” are swell – and it was an easy matter to send my uniform to be washed yesterday with all the other guys, because I knew I would know mine right away.

Well Chick-a-dee, it is getting later, and I’m fast running out of chatter. Now that you have been down here there’s not so much to write about so far as my surroundings are concerned. I think about how you left here in such a hurry Tuesday afternoon, and sometimes I’m glad it was a hurry and sometimes I’m sorry. In a way it was fine to have you leave in a “whish” of laughs and excitement – but in another it was too darned fast – I hardly got a chance to say good-bye, much less tell you to give my love to everyone home, to say hello to John and Marian, etc. etc. etc. Nite for now darling –

All my love,

Tomah, Wisconsin, September, 7 1943
Dearest Chickadee –

Well, I’m in Tomah finally. At the moment it is about 15 minutes to eight and I’m sitting in the Red Cross office. I don’t know whether I’m supposed to be here or not, cause I just walked in and no one is here after 5:00 o’clock in the evening. The Red Cross office is located in the Station Hospital at the moment. It is in the process of being moved to new quarters (probably by Thursday) in a chapel on the Post. The Camp is quite small, and I am the only Assistant – there is Sauerman, the head-man, one stenographer, and Chickadum.

The job itself sounds awfully big now, darling. Mr. Sauerman has been handling it all alone, and the Post here has grown considerably, as well as the other three stations he handles, so it is more than one guy can do. That’s why it has been so hard for him to be here – etc. etc. I think what will happen, is that he will turn over the work here to me and he will travel to the other camps regularly. That means that probably before the month is out I will be handling this camp practically alone. Gosh, I sure feel like a Rookie – and know that I have an awful lot to learning to do for the next two weeks. For that reason, I’m not going to mind living here on the Post for a while at least.

By the way, my Field Jacket keeps me plenty warm, so there need be no worry on that score. I’m trying to rattle off so fast that I’m sure getting plenty of mistakes. I want to write to Tom & Nat, Milly, and Chick yet tonight though, if I can, and I know I can’t stay here hammering too long, cause it will keep the patients awake.

So, bye now, honey-darling. You’re awfully sweet – did you know that? Thank you, and give my thanks again to everyone else for the fine birthday. Let me know how Janie-Ann likes Humboldt. Good-luck to Mom and the Flower-show.


After completing his assistant field director probation, Jim Klingel was transferred to Romulus, Michigan, where his wife Henny joined him. He later was promoted to A.R.C. Field Director and assigned to posts in Kansas and Oklahoma. Jim served with the Red Cross until late 1945 when he resigned and returned to Minnesota where he could be close to his family and mother, who was ill. Recently, Jim’s children gave his Army Regulation uniform and the letters he wrote during his service to the Red Cross. Today, Service to the Armed Forces continues to be essential Red Cross work around the world.

Edited story and composed photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region

Let Our 2012 Heroes Inspire You

The American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region is pleased to present our 2012 Heroes Awards recipients. This year’s honorees include a teenage boy who performed life-saving CPR on his sister, police officers who rescued people from a burning building, and a soldier who stayed in the line of gun fire so that his teammates could seek safety.

Click on each image to see each hero’s story.

Saint Paul resident Sarah Meggitt rescued a woman from Como Lake. One night last October, Meggitt dove into cold water to rescue a woman who was trying to commit suicide. The woman did not want to be saved, but Meggitt stayed and fought to keep the woman’s head above water until professional responders arrived on-scene. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Cloquet student Kody Denison performed life-saving CPR on his 2-year-old sister, who suffered a seizure and stopped breathing at home. A ninth-grade student and hockey player, Denison learned CPR in health class at Cloquet High, which has a long-time commitment to Red Cross life-saving training. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Frank Mackall saved people from a burning apartment complex. Responding to a call involving a woman threatening to start a fire, Officer Mackall arrived early on-scene, finding a fire spreading rapidly through the apartments. With Officer Weinzierl, Mackall rescued six people including a paraplegic who was barely seen because of smoke. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Todd Weinzierl saved people from a burning apartment complex. Responding to a call involving a woman threatening to start a fire, Officer Weinzierl arrived early, finding a fire spreading rapidly through the apartments. With Officer Mackall, Weinzierl rescued six people, including a paraplegic who was barely seen because of smoke. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Ed White of Amery, Wisconsin, performed life-saving actions when a man collapsed at a fitness center. White is among the most active members of the Amery Fire Department. He’s involved with department fundraisers, prevention education, and social activities. White is a hero and an inspiration to many in the Amery community, including two of his children who have joined the Amery fire explorer program and have plans to follow in their dad’s life-saving footsteps. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Brooklyn Park youth Zachary Pierson used life-saving CPR last year to save Robert Meredith, Pierson’s baseball coach. When Pierson saw that Meredith was not breathing, he immediately started giving chest compressions and continued for about ten minutes until first responders arrived. Pierson then helped the emergency responders to the ambulance when his heart stopped again. Doctors later performed heart surgery on Meredith and told him 95 percent of people like him do not survive because rarely is someone close enough to perform CPR during a heart emergency. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Plymouth resident and charity founder LaDonna Hoy  founded Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP), a social services charity that helps families in crisis. Hoy was instrumental in guiding IOCP to raise more than $5.5 million dollars that was used to renovate an old grocery store. The store now houses IOCP’s food shelf, case management, mental health resources, financial assistance, computer lab, re-sale shop, and other services that move families from crisis to stability. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Andrew Strege, United States Army soldier and resident of Wyoming, Minnesota,  performed courageous acts while on patrol in Afghanistan last September. A hostile insurgent force ambushed Strege and his squad. In spite of his injury, Strege returned fire, enabling his squad members to seek cover and coordinate movements for his rescue. As a result, Strege lost half of his right leg, but saved the lives of his squad members. While still undergoing rehabilitation and learning how to live with a leg prosthesis, Strege is sharing his experience with others and looking forward to a career in education and law enforcement. (Photo credit: Tommy Hutlgren)

Ham Lake resident Elizabeth Estepp founded Friend 2 Friend, a mobile clothing charity that continues to assist people affected by the Minneapolis tornado. Immediately after a tornado hit North Minneapolis on May 22, 2011, the Friend 2 Friend mobile unit was on-the-ground providing water, hygiene items, gloves, clothing, and other essential supplies to affected people. This past fall, Estepp delivered school supplies, clothing, and meals to more than 200 children and their families in metro area apartment complexes and mobile home courts. (Photo credit: Andy King)

Dolly Ruark of Saint Paul reached a 100-gallon blood donation milestone. Ruark started donating whole blood in the late 1960s. In 1984, Ruark began donating platelets—a blood clotting component with a five-day shelf life—and has continued to do ever since. Donating blood honors her brother who died from complications of AIDS. (Photo credit: Andy King)

American Red Cross Heroes are honored for demonstrating the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. You can support this mission by becoming a Red Cross volunteer, giving financial contributions, or donating blood. Learn more on redcrossmn.org

¡Muchas Gracias Viviana!

Thanks to Red Cross worker Viviana Sotro thousands of people in Minnesota’s diverse communities are safer and better prepared for emergencies here in Minnesota.

This month way say “adios amiga” to our friend and co-worker Viviana Sotro who has accepted an executive director position at a local Latino family organization.

For twelve years, Sotro has provided emergency preparedness education to thousands of people across the Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area. In the Latino community alone, she has reached around 10,000 people with safety & preparedness education, which she believes is worthwhile. “I can say, yes, preparedness education makes a difference. I can see it on their faces. They say, now I know.”

Trained as a Red Cross EMT in Argentina, Sotro has long understood that diverse communities in Minnesota might need to learn about being safe during severe weather and other emergencies. “I could relate to them because most people from Latin countries have never experienced tornadoes.” In 2002, Sotro joined the Red Cross in Minnesota as a volunteer and the following year she accepted a staff position. Later, she became the community outreach manager guiding staff and volunteers in their work teaching people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America who now make Minnesota their home. “I really like to be respectful of other cultures. Everyone has something unique to appreciate.”

Although Sotro is departing her Red Cross job, she plans to continue being involved as a volunteer. Her hope, she says, is that diverse community engagement with the Red Cross increases. “I would like to see more Latinos wearing Red Cross t-shirts as volunteers.” She would especially like to see more people from diverse communities become Red Cross instructors, disaster relief workers, and good samaritans trained in CPR & First Aid.

Thank you, Viviana, for being a part of the Red Cross and helping to fulfill our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. We wish you and your family the very best.

Stuffing Comfort

Wells Fargo employees, including Emily Wilke (center), stuffing Red Cross comfort kits. Photo credit: Carrie Monroe O'Keefe/American Red Cross

Little things do matter. Take a Red Cross comfort kit. It consists of shampoo, toothbrush, washcloth, and other toiletry essentials. These are small things that add up to big comfort after disaster.

Recently, Minneapolis-based Wells Fargo employees helped make more than 300 comfort kits that Red Cross volunteers will give to families affected by home fires, flooding, and other disasters.

Helping out like this is a darn cool thing to do for your community. Thank you, Wells Fargo, for stuffing a bit of comfort for when people need it the most.

Others can help too by shopping the 2011 Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog.

Generosity Abounds in Minnesota

Red Cross responder Carrie Carlson-Guest helped promote Give to the Max Day at a giveMN.org event.

We’re not surprised by your generosity even though others around the country might be. Minnesotans have long been givers–of time, wisdom, and money. This was no exception during the 2011 Give to the Max Day.

The American Red Cross in Minnesota ranked 35 out of nearly 4000 and made the Top 100 leader board. YOU donated more than $35,000 to support our mission to provide humanitarian relief during disaster and to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

And so we extend our appreciation most heartily during this season of giving thanks. We can also say without a doubt that the beneficiaries of your generosity are incredibly grateful as well.

If you missed Give to the Max Day, you can still share with others. Check out our 2011 Holiday Giving Catalog.

“Gray Lady” Uniform Preserves Red Cross History

"If you keep busy and volunteer, you stay alive a little longer," says Terry Dugger, 80, who served as a Red Cross volunteer from 1968 to 1970. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Among the treasures Terry Dugger has kept through the decades is a uniform that she wore as a Red Cross volunteer at the military hospital on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska.

“We saw the fellas coming in from motorcycle accidents. I went to different rooms and passed out shaving equipment, playing cards, and other things like that. There wasn’t anybody else on the base to do it,” she says.

Dugger’s Red Cross uniform is different from those the Gray Lady Service volunteers used during World Wars I and II. This has blue and white pin stripes. Worn for only two years and in excellent condition, the uniform is now a gift from Dugger as a means to share and preserve Red Cross history.

A "Gray Lady" volunteer uniform circa 1960s preserves Red Cross history. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Dugger, who was an air force wife for twenty years, did volunteer work when her six children were in school, serving in the Red Cross from 1968-70. Now 80 years old, Dugger still shares valuable time doing a variety of volunteer activities.

“I couldn’t wait until I got old and now I’m too old, but rather than sit home I want to get out and help people.”

Being a volunteer has given—and continues to provide—Dugger with a greater sense of purpose. Currently, she’s a volunteer at the Armed Forces Service Center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

In the late 1960s, Terry Dugger served as a Red Cross volunteer at the military hospital on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dugger attended Saint Mark’s elementary school, located a couple blocks from her residence for thirty years. Growing up, both of her parents worked so she often tended to the “roomers” they had to help pay bills. Dugger says that the experience taught her to be independent, a characteristic she cherishes so much that she would never consider getting herself a boyfriend.

“Are you kidding!?! I had a good husband. I can do what I want. I can eat ice cream for breakfast. I’ve got a lot of things to do,” she says.

Dugger also has no use, she says, for a computer or a cell phone. Instead, she looks forward to getting letters from the postal service everyday.

She advises everyone, including her 40 or so grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, to stay busy throughout life.

“If you keep busy and volunteer, you stay alive a little longer.”

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross, Northern Minnesota Region

Tips for a safer Halloween

As ghosts and vampires get ready to roam the streets, we offer these tips to make this a frightfully safe Halloween:

We like these pumpkins. Have a safe and fun Halloween. (Image credit: Lynette Nyman)

Costume Safety

Whether a child wants to be a princess, a monster or a superhero for Halloween, parents can help keep it safe by:

  • Adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Using flame-resistant costumes.
  • Using face makeup instead of masks, which can cover eyes and make it hard to see.

Navigating the Neighborhood

To maximize safety, plan a route ahead of time. Make sure adults know where children are going. If the children are young, a parent or responsible adult should accompany them as they walk through the neighborhood.

Here are more safety tips to follow as children go from house to house:

  • Make sure trick-or-treaters have a flashlight.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—never go inside.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
  • Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

Trick or Treat!

For those who expect to greet trick-or-treaters at their door, they can make sure it’s fun for everyone by following a few tips:

  • Make sure the outdoor lights are on.
  • Sweep leaves from sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in jack-o-lanterns to avoid a fire hazard.


Out processed and headed home

Our Red Cross chapter mobile feeding on the road in Pennsylvania after the flooding. Photo credit: Rick Campion/American Red Cross

(from Rick and Karen Campion, Red Cross Emergency Services Volunteers based in Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Today is day 16 of our Red Cross deployment to the Pennsylvania flood response and we’re on our way home to Minneapolis.  This morning we cleared the final mobile feeding truck inspection and out-processing without a hitch.

This Red Cross national disaster response was well organized with a full complement of volunteers covering nearly 12,000 sq. miles of flood ravaged territory. Rick and I had a mobile feeding route in some of the hardest hit areas right along the banks of the Susquehanna River. We went from house to house to deliver meals.  Many of the recipients said we were the first disaster relief people they had seen.
It was difficult to not get teary eyed when they expressed their sincere

We have traveled nearly 4000 miles since we left home on 9/11 and today was
a quiet ride allowing us time to reflect on our Pennsylvania experience.  It’s easy to
be grateful for your blessings when you see the huge loss of so many.

We plan to be home this week and will see many of you soon.

Take care,
Karen and Rick

Red, not orange

Jeff Skoog is a Red Cross volunteer disaster relief work based in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers are amazing for about one billion-gazillion reasons. Take Jeff Skoog, who serves as a volunteer disaster relief worker during both local and national responses.

When Jeff could be out reeling in a sturgeon or walleye on this incredibly lovely summer day in Minnesota, he is instead here at work sprucing up the chapter’s mobile feeding truck.

“The red should be red,” he says.

Simple how-to instructions:

1. Find shiny up stuff

2. Get wet soft cloth

3. Wipe on shiny up stuff

4. Get dry soft cloth

5. Wipe off shiny up stuff


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