Staff and volunteers will be out in force throughout the territory Saturday, collecting donations from motorists to support the work of the American Red Cross in the USVI in providing emergency and disaster relief.
The “Fill the Boot” campaign is a regular fundraiser jointly sponsored by the V.I. Fire Service and the Red Cross. Originally an annual event, it has been so successful and the need so great, that it’s been held twice a year more recently, according to Lily Alvarez, executive coordinator for St. Croix.
The “boot” is supplied by a firefighter, emphasizing the coordination between the Fire Service and the Red Cross in helping victims of fires.
The Red Cross provides shelter, clothing and food to victims of house fires, Alvarez said. If necessary, it can also help with clean-up and ensuring victims have necessary prescription medications.
“In less than two hours” the organization has a team ready to help, she said.
While it is perhaps best known for its work with victims of house fires, the Red Cross mandate covers virtually all types of emergencies, including landslides, floods and storms.
In 2014, according to a news release from the organization, the local Red Cross assisted more than 40 people. It also provided training and educational materials to 1,200 people.
It has more than 300 volunteers in the Virgin Islands, Alvarez said.
Robert Sofaly, disaster services specialist, said volunteers help in a wide variety of ways, including transportation, information technology and government relations. Some are trained to be able to run temporary disaster shelters. The organization tries to pair people with activities that match their interests and expertise and it provides training for them.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, some of those volunteers will man key traffic intersections on all three islands, collecting donations to continue the work. The group is also getting assistance from businesses and community groups, including Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, the Civil Air Patrol and the Junior Firefighters.
Volunteers will be stationed at: St. Croix – Kmart West. Sunny Isle, Basin Triangle and Five Corners; St. Thomas – Mandela Circle, Nisky Center, Fort Christian, Tutu Park Mall and Redhook; St. John – at Cruz Bay.
Anyone who misses them on the road can make a donation of money or of service by calling the Red Cross at 1-340-774-0375 on St. Thomas-St. John, or at 1-340-778-5104 on St. Croix.