Usually, it’s the people in need who look to the American Red Cross for help. But right now, it’s the other way around. The response will determine how effectively the Red Cross will be able to answer our calls for assistance when disaster strikes.

The Pecan Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross announced last week that it is making a “neighbor-to-neighbor” appeal for financial assistance as it nears the end of its fiscal year facing an uncharacteristically large budget deficit — an expected $14,000 against a $102,000 annual budget.

The local Red Cross chapter receives support from a variety of sources — the United Way, grants from local foundations and individual donors. But needs are growing throughout the area, and pressure on these resources is growing too. A series of national disasters in recent years is suspected of diverting some of those gifts, particularly those from individual donors. While all are worthy causes and merit our support, the fact remains that this area’s Red Cross office in Brownwood could be lost if trends aren’t reversed.

The incredible humanitarian work the Red Cross performs in times of crisis is well documented, but much of what its staff and volunteers do takes place in numerous programs that fly under the radar of many area residents. Those include training and planning for emergencies, teaching first aid and CPR classes, offering swimming lessons and lifeguard training, supporting local fire departments, assisting flood and fire victims, and sending messages to members of the armed forces and their families.

The global mission of the Red Cross will continue if the financial situation of the local chapter does not improve, but its ability to serve the local community is in jeopardy unless it does.

Those who value the ongoing programs of the Red Cross here at home, and who understand how important the chapter has been to local residents for generations, will step forward to help.

Brownwood Bulletin