GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Several neighborhoods in Gulfport got a surprise visit from the American Red Cross on Tuesday. In most cases, the American Red Cross shows up after a disaster happens, but this group of lead volunteers and staff from across the state took steps to make sure people are prepared before the disaster strikes.
The group was finishing up a two-day retreat here on the Coast, and used the time to help the community. They partnered with the Gulfport Fire Department and went door to door to spread fire safety awareness.
According to Southeast Mississippi's Disaster Program Manager Angie Grejada, this fulfills the Red Cross's mission of alleviating human suffering.
"We do that through the use of volunteers and donated funds, and so the canvassing alarm event really works right into that. We work with our volunteers to do that. We're working with the community to help alleviate suffering and hopefully prevent or decrease disasters that happen every day," said Grejada.
As part of the effort to help the community, the Red Cross offered free smoke detectors to anyone who needed one. If someone didn't have a smoke detector, the fire department installed one free of charge.
Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said it didn't take much to convince the department to help out.
"I think it's a natural part of our mission. This cuts your chances of being killed in a fire by 50 percent. It's an easy thing that we can do. I've always heard it said, 'There's no glory in fighting a fire well that could have been prevented in the first place,' and so this is our attempt to mitigate the damage that is done on the fire end," said Beyerstedt.
If you or someone you know needs a smoke detector, please call the Red Cross at 228-896-4511.