ELKHART — Elkhart County’s American Red Cross is looking for more volunteers willing to deploy to the East Coast to help with disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
A boot camp training session for volunteers will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the chapter’s office, 721 Riverview Ave. in Elkhart.
“The boot camp will give them a good understanding of what they would be doing, what it looks like to be part of a disaster response, the many different kinds of jobs that are available and the possibilities of what they could do out there,” said Kristin Hall, the chapter’s development coordinator.
A group of Red Cross volunteers from Elkhart County have already traveled to the East Coast, including chapter leader Frank Connolly who is in New York. Doug Farmwald, local disaster coordinator, left for New Jersey on Thursday morning.
“Now we have 11 people deployed out of South Bend, 11 from Elkhart County and three to five from Kosciusko County,” Hall said.
Many of the volunteers who initially deployed to the coastal states were needed at evacuation shelters for mass care, Hall said. As of Wednesday, there were 292 shelters set up on the East Coast, including 171 shelters run by the Red Cross. More than 100,000 meals have been served, Hall added.
Hall said there are 21 people on a waiting list ready to be deployed once more volunteer opportunities are available. The average deployment lasts between two and three weeks, she estimated.
“Volunteering is really one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it’s also exhausting, not so much physically but emotionally as well,” Hall said.
In addition to volunteers, the Red Cross is also accepting blood and monetary donations for disaster relief. To sign up for volunteer orientations or to donate, visit www.elkhartredcross.org or call 293-6519. Potential volunteers are asked to complete an application and consent to a background check.