How to Volunteer at the Red Cross

How to Volunteer at the Red Cross. The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton. This humanitarian organization is part of an international organization offering protection and assistance to victims of war and violence. In addition to international disaster relief, the American Red Cross provides domestic services. It offers help to the needy and support to families of military members. It collects, stores and distributes blood and blood products. It promotes health and nutritional awareness through educational programs. Read on to find out how you can volunteer at the Red Cross.

Know the Red Cross Organization

Learn the symbols. There are 5 symbols used by the Red Cross society, all on a white background: the Red Cross, the Red Crescent Moon, the Red Crystal, the Red Lion with Sun and the red Shield of David.

Recognize that the last 4 symbols were adopted as neutral symbols in regions that would not accept the Red Cross symbol for religious and other reasons.

Understand the organizational structure of the Red Cross. There are national societies of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent worldwide. Although they all fall under the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, while on assignment, members of each national society still have to follow its own government's rules.

Volunteer With the Red Cross

Visit the American Red Cross website to find volunteer opportunities in your area (see Resources below).

Decide on the amount of time you can dedicate to volunteering. You could volunteer at 1-time events, short-term assignments or while you are on vacation. You can also go in when an opportunity matching your skill set comes up or you could be on-call to volunteer as needed. Volunteer opportunities requiring ongoing commitments also exist.

Be prepared to help people in different situations, from a sick child to injured people in disaster areas. Rest assured that you do not need special skills to volunteer with the Red Cross. If a volunteer opportunity requires special skills, the organization will train you.

Take an online orientation to learn more about volunteer work at the Red Cross (see Resources below). The "Introduction to Disaster Services" video will also show you the kind of work involved in a disaster area (see Resources below).

Consider helping in other ways. The Red Cross appreciates donations of money and blood. Although it sometimes accepts goods, the organization is not equipped to sort through individual or community donations of goods. The Red Cross may accept bulk donations of a single product from a manufacturing company for disaster areas.