Rhode Islanders train to become Red Cross volunteers

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — When disasters strike, the American Red Cross jumps into action – sending help and comfort to areas around the world. But, the organization wouldn’t be able to do that without trained volunteers.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the organization’s Rhode Island chapter had a surge of people wanting to volunteer. And Tuesday, about 20 people participated in a training session in Cranston to learn about how to help people who’ve been affected by a tragedy.

“They’re going to get their background checked today. They’ve already done that this morning. Now, they’re getting an all-day training on what to expect when they go out to a disaster,” said Elizabeth McDonald, American Red Cross RI Chapter.

Whether it’s going to Texas to help those devastated by Harvey or going elsewhere, volunteers must learn how sheltering works – from giving emotional support to providing a safe place to sleep.

“It’s everything from setting up cots, to serving meals, to giving hugs. It’s everything,” McDonald said.

Staff with the Red Cross said many volunteers are deployed for two-week shifts. As time goes by, volunteers trained Tuesday will be on standby.

“So, when they go down there they know what to expect and they’re trained to be able to help and then they will be ready to deploy,” McDonald said.

The Red Cross will hold a similar training Thursday. People who want to attend should register beforehand. For more information about the training, contact the Red Cross at (401) 831-7700.

REBUILDING TOGETHER: WPRI 12 is teaming up with Cardi’s Furniture & Mattresses and Arpin Van Lines for a TEXAS RELIEF DRIVE to collect specific donations to help the people of Texas rebuild after Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented destruction. Please come donate supplies to our drive and we will be delivering them to Texas. Here’s how to join us and help »

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