Services to the Armed Forces spreads holiday cheer to new Ft. Wainwright soldiers

group eating dinner 3

Leadership from Ft. Wainwright and the The American Red Cross of Alaska Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) teamed up to make Christmas Eve a little merrier for a group of new soldiers.

The Red Cross of Alaska Services to the Armed Forces hosted a Christmas Eve dinner at our Fairbanks office for soldiers that  just arrived at Ft. Wainwright.

Leadership from Ft. Wainwright contacted Misty Bruce, our Regional Services to the Armed Forces Specialist to identify this opportunity for the Red Cross to spread some holiday cheer in the local community.

The Red Cross was excited to host a good old-fashioned home cooked meal, and were pleased to host more than 50 soldiers.

SAF staff and volunteers decked the halls and put up a Christmas tree, and even streamed some live football to make the Red Cross office feel homey. The atmosphere offered some familiarity and comfort to the new soldiers who are facing a lot of firsts and are a long way from home.

“Many of the new soldiers have just completed basic training in the lower 48, where the climate is significantly different,” said Bruce. “Additionally, being that Alaska is considered an OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) duty station, it is extremely costly for soldiers to fly home last minute or during the holidays.”

Bruce went on to explain many of the recruits also face the challenge of not yet having their own car; thus, Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces coordinated with the units to provide transportation, so all had the opportunity to attend the Christmas Eve meal.

And finally- the most important information: What was for dinner?! Red Cross provided a traditional meal of turkey, ham, potatoes and side dishes. All agreed the meal was a success and hope to make this an annual tradition.



10 Holiday Cooking Safety Tips from Red Cross

Millions of people will gather for Thanksgiving  this week to enjoy time with loved ones and a delicious holiday dinner. With cooking being the number one cause of home fires, the American Red Cross recommends that everyone follow these fire safety steps:

  1. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year if your smoke alarm requires it.
  2. Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  3. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended – stay in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  4. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check it regularly.
  5. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  6. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area. Make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  7. Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  8. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  10. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.

Bonus Tip

The Red Cross First Aid App provides expert advice for common mishaps or emergencies including cuts, burns and what to do if someone is choking. Download the app for free in your app store or text GETFIRST to 90999.

Mat-Su Free Smoke Alarm Sign-Up Event: Saturday, November 25

The Red Cross of Alaska Will be at West Lakes Fire Department station #71 Saturday, November 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. registering residents for free smoke alarm installations. West Lakes Fire Department is located at 1685 Pittman Road, Wasilla, Alaska 99623. Upon registration, the Red Cross will contact you to set an appointment. During your appointment, the Red Cross will come to your home and install as many smoke alarms as needed at no cost. The Red Cross will also complete a home fire safety checklist with you and help you and your family create a fire escape plan.



Akiak Reflection: A Red Cross Volunteer Shares Stories of her Time Spent in the Rural Alaskan Village

By: Rachel Alda, Red Cross of Alaska Volunteer

Group Shot- Rich Yvonne Rachel Steven
Red Cross volunteer Rachel Alda, third from the left, along with Red Cross volunteers Rich and Yvonne, and Red Cross Preparedness Specialist Steven Fisher. 

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to get to visit Akiak, a small village in rural Alaska, with the American Red Cross of Alaska.

Our visit was part of the ongoing Home Fire Campaign, which aims to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. The campaign educates people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installing smoke alarms at no cost.

Through the help and guidance of Red Cross of Alaska Preparedness Specialist, Steven Fisher, who has prior experience visiting rural villages all over the state, I was able to catch a glimpse of life outside of the “big city” I was accustomed to. This included my first time flying in a 207 aircraft, seeing salmonberry jam being prepared, and staying in school for more than 24 hours, just to name few.

During our short stay there, we met the Campfire counselors. They welcomed us warmly, showed us around the school where we stayed and introduced us to the children of Akiak, who were full of positive energy. I was able to talk to the kids and learn their names, their favorite color, and eventually, all the hottest gossip around camp.

steven and Rachel's name written on pillowcase
A child in Akiak personalizes her pillowcase by writing the names of her new friends from the Red Cross.

As Steven and I established ourselves as familiar faces with the kids, we presented the Pillowcase Project with ease as the kids eagerly participated and demonstrated their knowledge about natural disasters and preparedness.

Our game of Disaster Simon Says, followed by decorating the pillowcases with the kids was the most memorable part of the trip.

I was personally touched when a little girl pulled me towards her pillowcase to show me that she had written our names on hers. To be able to walk around town and see the kids’ faces light up as they recognized us made my day.

Along with meeting the children and educating them about flood, earthquake, and fire safety, we were also able to explore the town by going house to house and installing smoke alarms for those who needed it. The residents welcomed us into their homes with a smile and answered any questions had. In doing so, I was able to learn about their culture through the stories they told us as well as the art and food that we were shown.

Volunteers exiting home
Red Cross volunteers Yvonne and Rich finish installing smoke alarms in a home in Akiak.

Overall, I’m glad that I was able to go on this trip. It opened my eyes to a community different from my own, and I appreciate everything that they have taught me. Hopefully in the future, I will be able to visit more rural villages in Alaska with the Red Cross and experience a new side of the state while informing its residents of preparedness and safety.

senior pic
Red Cross volunteer, Rachel Alda



June Volunteer Anniversaries

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross.

Our vital work is only possible because of people like you.

Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.cupcake_june

April & May Volunteer Anniversaries

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross.

Our vital work is only possible because of people like you.

Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.


Julie’s Journal: Day 4 on Call, Thoughts on Red Cross Volunteers

Day 4 of being on the Disaster Action Team (DAT) and another wonderful night of Anchorage being safe from disaster and home fire.

My thoughts this morning turn to our volunteers. I am a paid staff member and of course, I’m just volunteering for a week. But I thought about how these hours really do add up.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Someone is doing this job on Christmas. Someone is doing this job when they could be doing other things. Volunteers abstain from alcohol when on call. They can’t leave town spur of the moment. They do always have to be aware that they may be needed at any  minute.

Red Cross of Alaska volunteers gather from all across the state at the University of Anchorage Alaska for the Alaska Disaster Leadership Institute. 

They really do sacrifice a small part of their life to be on call for DAT.

These volunteers are ESSENTIAL to Red Cross. The average value estimate of a volunteers time is $22.00 an hour. Imagine if paid staff had to be on call 24/7. It would cost the Red Cross of Alaska approximately $192,720.00 per year to pay for these services from staff.

Instead, we are able to rely upon volunteers who SELFLESSLY give their time, talents and hearts to help those in need.

I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of how much is given to us and the community by our volunteers. They are the definition of INVALUABLE!!!

Thank you, Volunteers, for giving so much to so many!

-Julie Kent, Regional Chief Development Officer Red Cross of Alaska

Julie’s Journal: Day 3 on call with the Red Cross Disaster Action Team

Day 3 on the Disaster Action Team (DAT) and Anchorage is safe and sound once again!

I was driving into downtown and saw smoke coming from the side of a house. I thought, oh my goodness, am I going to be called to this shortly?

Pulling up close to the house, I could see they had a large meat smoker going. Phew! But I was ready!

My thoughts this morning went to all emergency/disaster personal, such as our fireman, police and paramedics. This is their life every day. Out on the streets, in our community, responding at all hours of the day. Keeping us safe.

I don’t think I’ve even been more grateful or understanding of them as I am right now.

Again, I will do this job for 1 week. Emergency responders and Red Cross respond and have to be ready 365 days a year. What respect and gratitude they are due!

-Julie Kent, Regional Chief Development Officer, Red Cross of Alaska

Julie in firefighter coat
Julie Kent, Red Cross of Alaska Chief Development Officer in a vintage Red Cross firefighter’s coat

Julie’s Journal: Day 2 on Call- False Alarms and a Perspective Change

It’s day 2 of being on DAT (Disaster Action Team)! Good news is Anchorage is safe and sound from home fires and disasters so I had a full night sleep. Funny moment yesterday when the DAT captain, Bruce, was in my office. His beeper went off and I said, Oh man! Is it time? And he said, No. It’s just my buzzer to let me know it’s time for lunch. Phew!

But I was ready! Went to sleep wondering if I was going to get a call. Made sure my phone was not on Do Not Disturb and was prepared that I could get that call anytime.

I watched this video yesterday :

I’m starting to think I’m going to be sad when this week is over. How amazing to be a part of this tremendous work.

It’s very interesting being connected to disasters. I’ve never woke up in the morning thinking of whether or not something bad has happened in our city the night before. Like you, I just wake up and go about my day. There was something comforting to wake knowing that if I didn’t receive a call, then Anchorage was safe from disaster last night.

I love how this experience is really changing my daily perspective. I thought this journey would be great but it’s even better than I expected.


-Julie Kent, Regional Chief Development Officer Red Cross of Alaska

Julie’s Journal: Day 1 on Call

So, today starts my week of volunteering for the Disaster Action Team (DAT Team). Before I went to bed last night, I realized, I NEED TO BE READY! Because at any moment this week, I may get the call to drop everything and respond to a home fire or disaster.

I’m both excited and nervous because I assume if I do receive a call, it may not be at the perfect moment and I may have to just drop everything and go! But I do know that I’m so honored to have the opportunity to see firsthand what we do and after the initial excitement of my first call, I know the depth of our mission will take over once I’m on the scene.

If all of Alaska is safe and sound from disaster this week and I don’t receive a call,  I already feel like I understand our DAT team better and appreciate that they always hold a little part of their life aside in case they are called upon.

My appreciation of them is growing by the day!

On with Day 1!

-Julie Kent, Regional Chief Development Officer, Red Cross of Alaska

This is a series of journal posts documenting our Regional Chief Development Officer’s journey as a member of our Disaster Action Team for one week. Read Julie’s original post here:


Julie’s Journal: My Week with the Disaster Team

Julie headshot
Julie Kent, American Red Cross of Alaska Chief Development Officer

My name is Julie Kent and I am the Chief Development Officer for the Red Cross of Alaska.

Most days, I deal with fundraising and donors but I have a unique connection to our disaster team. Because it’s what they do that allows me to ask donors to support us.

So knowing what they do every day is very important to my work.

I offered to be on the DAT team (what we call our Disaster Action Team) for a week, going on calls anytime of the day or night. Seeing firsthand what they see. Meeting with people who have just been affected by disaster. Offering help to those in need. This way, when I talk to donors, I can speak firsthand about what we do.

I’m so excited but I’m thinking I should not underestimate how hard it might be. Most fires happen during the night so lack of sleep may be a concern and may affect my daily living. Also, dealing with devastation and high emotions from those affected by disaster may be more than I expect. This is what our disaster team does EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. I can’t wait to spend a week in their shoes.

I’m so excited to be a part of this team and will keep a log every day of my actions with the team.

I start on Monday morning. Wish me luck!

-Julie Kent, Regional Chief Development Officer Red Cross of Alaska