Red Cross Looking For Volunteers

As the Red Cross looks ahead to this year's hurricane season- they're hoping to find more help. Since Katrina hit, the number of Red Cross Volunteers in South Mississippi has declined, and leaders of the organization are hoping to find more help soon.

"I find that you get much more back by doing stuff for others than I could ever hope to get doing something else," says volunteer Hank DeSandre.

DeSandre has been volunteering at the American Red Cross in South Mississippi since last May. He provides an invaluable service, working up to 40 hours a week, but hard workers like DeSandre have been dropping off since Katrina.

"People are busy. Their focus right now is on rebuilding their own lives, their homes, their businesses, so they really don't have the time to devote or haven't had the time to devote to us that they had in the past," says Bill Brent, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Brent says since the storm, the number of volunteers is down 35 percent. The chapter currently has 250 volunteers, but there are 300 volunteer openings left to fill.

"You can volunteer at the Red Cross and make a commitment as minimum of two hours of training to get prepared to be a shelter volunteer when something happens. We also have our disaster response teams, which are much more involved. There's approximately 40 to 50 hours of training involved for an individual to be part of that team," Brent says.

Brent hopes more volunteers like Hank De Sandre will come on board so the coast will be better prepared when disaster does strike.

The Gulf Coast chapter serves Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River and Jackson Counties.

If you'd like volunteer, you can call 228-896-4511.