‘Heroes’ wanted

Published 11:00 am Monday, April 9, 2012

WINDSOR – Bertie County citizens can be heroes.

The American Red Cross in Bertie County is seeking to become more active and is asking the county citizens to help in a multitude of ways.

“We’ve been active in Bertie County for about three years,” said Patricia Ferguson, who serves as Disaster Assistance Team leader for the county. “We’ve been slow getting started, but we’re ready to move.”

Ferguson said part of the delay was a reorganization of the Pitt County Chapter of Red Cross, who oversees Bertie County.

The first step in getting more active in the county is an attempt to raise $25,000 in funds to help disaster victims through the Heroes Campaign.

“It is a grassroots campaign that will raise funds which will be targeted for use locally,” Ferguson said. “All of the money raised in Bertie County will be designated for the county. It’s quite ambitious, but something we should work towards.”

The Heroes Campaign usually carries a monetary donation figure in its nationwide effort, but Bertie County citizens can become ‘Heroes’ for any donation during this first year of the fundraising program.

Ferguson is asking for all churches in the county to take up a collection for the American Red Cross on the final Sunday of each month and send it to the Pitt County Chapter (310 East 10th Street, Greenville, NC 27858) designated for Bertie County.

The money raised will help with disaster relief in the county, which is provided by Ferguson and her team members. The disaster relief provided by the Red Cross is to meet immediate needs.

Currently  there is only one disaster team in the county and those people respond to any disaster in any corner of Bertie, including fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and any other disaster.

“Our goal is to be on the ground within two hours,” Ferguson said. “We try to meet the immediate needs of the families who have been involved in disasters including shelter, clothing and any other immediate need.”

Ferguson said Bertie County is more than 200 square miles and that in addition to financial help, the American Red Cross needs more volunteers in the county.

“As soon as we’re called, we go,” she said. “Right now if there were two calls at the same time we don’t have the manpower to handle it.”

Ferguson said her goal was to have a response team – which totals three people – in each of the county’s townships.

“We desperately need that,” she said.

Ferguson said those wishing to volunteer would receive training in Bertie County and would not be expected to just go out on their own.

“Training will be provided before the volunteers are placed,” she said.

Those wishing to learn more about volunteering for the Red Cross in Bertie County are urged to call 332-6484 and leave a message.

Ferguson also said the local chapter of the Red Cross was working to provide information to local fire departments about their existence. She said the relationships with each fire department would allow them to be on the scene quicker.

During the month of March, Ferguson took her request to the Bertie County Commissioners, the Bertie County Board of Education and many other civic and church organizations. She told them it was important that everyone who was interested become part of the American Red Cross.