The American Red Cross is well known for disaster relief efforts, blood drives, and CPR classes, but what often flies under the radar are the ways we work to prepare our communities for emergencies. We have seen how educating children creates a great impact as they are able to take the information they have learned home to their loved ones. As a result, this life-saving preparedness information reaches more of the community.
In Orange County, one way families can learn about emergencies together is through the Children’s Safety Festival on December 10th. The Children’s Safety Festival is a free, invitation-only holiday party for families in vulnerable communities, which we hold at our Santa Ana chapter (600 Park Center Dr.). All children present receive a toy in addition to being educated on the importance of disaster preparedness. They have an opportunity to participate in a variety of preparedness activities as well as Holiday arts and crafts, and games. For example, educational booths about emergency preparedness include activities like performing the Drop, Cover, Hold On response to a simulated earthquake. Holiday activities include things like decorating sugar cookies, making reindeer candy canes, and having their face painted. It’s an event that combines education with fun to make a memorable experience for families to enjoy together, and they walk away with the tools to be ready for emergencies such as home fires, earthquakes, and first aid emergencies.
High school students from local Red Cross Clubs join together to help lead the event, providing the enthusiasm and energy that engages the ‘lil guests who attend. Leading up to the event clubs host toy drives, plan, and prepare for the day’s festivities. They make up about 90% of the volunteer base on the day of the event, hosting tables with games and activities, as well as providing education and logistical support to other booths at the event.
In addition to adult and youth Red Cross volunteers, several community services organizations will be present to help provide preparedness information unique to their cause. For example, each year the Mexican Consulate provides Spanish speaking volunteers to address attendees who are not native English speakers, Circle K donates treats for attendees, Southern California Edison hosts an electrical safety activity, and in the corner attendees will see one of the Orange County Fire Authority fire engines where ‘Lil Guests can learn more about fire safety. Many companies also host toy drives for employees to donate toys for the event.
So how can you be involved?
Many of the family members who attend speak little English and we need as many volunteers as possible to help educate in Spanish or translate as needed. These volunteers provide guest support in all areas of the event: registration, refreshments, directions, interpreting at booths, toy distribution, etc.). We also ask for donations of toys and specific preparedness kit items. Currently, we have preparedness kits, but are still looking for dust masks, light-duty gloves, whistles and hand sanitizer for 700 attendees, and snacks for the 400 youth and adult volunteers who help out at the event.
For questions or to be involved, please contact Beth Ratcliff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 714-481-5397.
We welcome your participation in the Children’s Safety Festival, and hope you will partner with us to ensure that our children know how to prevent and be prepared for emergencies!