GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When bad things happen, volunteers with the American Red Cross can always be counted on to lend a helping hand to those in need. In fact, volunteers make up 94 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. Monday, South Mississippi's volunteers were honored for their service and dedication.
Be it a hurricane, or even fires, or collecting blood for the injured, they show up, and their efforts do not go unnoticed.
"We depend on our partners, such as the American Red Cross and their volunteers, to help us with our sheltering efforts. They help with mass feedings," explained Harrison County EMA Director Rupert Lacy.
There are some 600 member volunteers for the South Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross. But not all were at Monday's breakfast. Some were headed up Highway 49 to help tornado victims in Covington County.
"The Red Cross, right now in South Mississippi, are responding to the tornados that affected Covington County, particularly around Collins and the Hot Coffee area of our chapter. So we've got a couple of volunteers that are headed out there to open up a shelter," Red Cross Executive Director Jay Huffstatler said.
The volunteers we talked with gave many reasons for giving their time.
"Actually, I have a saying from Winston Churchill is that we make a life from what we get, but we make a living from what we give, so I think that's a powerful statement. That's exactly why we want to volunteer," Leigh Liao said.
Volunteer Edward Creagh said, "I love doing it because I'm retired military, and I like giving back to the community because there is a need for retired military people to step up and work in the community."
"There's a lot of interaction between the people, and I sort of understand how they're feeling since I lost my house in Katrina," Glen Huff explained. "I think when I'm doing these things, it is helping people who are in trouble."
And when trouble does come, you can depend on these people to help in every way they can.
Across the state, more than 1,900 people volunteer their time and efforts to the Red Cross. Many of them are working the tornado disaster in Covington County right now.