Tenth annual Heroes of the American Red Cross campaign kicks off

Mike Bickhaus is chairman of this year's American Red Cross Heroes campaign, with Mecki Kosin as co-chairman.
Posted: Mar. 27, 2013 9:12 am Updated: Apr. 17, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

For Pam Shaffer, what comes together at this time of year is always a pleasure to watch play out.

The American Red Cross' annual Heroes campaign, now in its 10th year, involves members of the community raising funds to assist their local chapter of the nonprofit organization.

"It's always pretty cool to see this come together, and the energy involved with it," said Shaffer, who has been executive director of the local chapter of the Red Cross since 1991. "We enjoy this campaign because it's volunteers like this who are the heart and soul of the Red Cross."

Details about the monthlong campaign were spelled out this morning at the regional American Red Cross headquarters at 3000 N. 23rd. The chapter serves Adams, Brown, Pike, Hancock and McDonough counties.

Mike Bickhaus was introduced as campaign chairman, and Mecki Kosin as co-chairman.

This year's campaign goal is $50,000, the same as in 2012, when a record $57,348 was generated. More than $305,000 has been raised through the campaign since its inception in 2004.

"This is important to us," Shaffer said. "It's our only fundraiser of the year."

This year's local Red Cross budget is $224,487, so the campaign is being counted on to raise about 25 percent of the organization's annual operating costs.

The total regional budget for the Red Cross is $858,125. McDonough and Hancock counties were added to Shaffer's area in November.

Shaffer said it always difficult to project exact costs for any year.

"It all depends on the amount (and scope) of local disasters," she said.

The Red Cross assists with a wide variety of items, from house fires to full-blown regional disasters such as floods. The Red Cross trains volunteers in disaster education and preparedness, CPR, first aid, AED techniques, water safety, lifeguarding, and baby-sitting. In addition, the Red Cross also works with local military families when emergency communication is needed with loved ones stationed abroad.

And the Red Cross collects whole blood and platelet products.

Shaffer said 91 percent of all funds raised goes directly to helping make those services possible.

"This grass-roots campaign helps make all of that possible," she said.

Money will be raised for the campaign through the efforts of local business people; school, church and civic groups; and individual pledges.

"I stand in awe at the big hearts of the people in our community," Shaffer said. "It is only because of our local heroes -- big and small -- that we are able to be there for those who need us."

For more information about the campaign, call the local chapter of the Red Cross at (217) 222-2477.