Volunteers go virtual as COVID-19 impacts how Valdosta Red Cross helps disaster victims

Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 17:49:37-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — In south Georgia, a non-profit is adapting during the pandemic so they can continue their mission to be a lifeline to those in need.

"The biggest difference for me with the pandemic is that I can't hug people," said Connie Fleetwood, a volunteer with Red Cross.

A simple hug and a reassuring word help when people need it most.

That's what Red Cross volunteers Connie and Mark Fleetwood do and say they will continue to do despite the dangers of the pandemic.

"The pandemic has created some challenges for the Red Cross in the way that we deliver our mission," said Terri Jenkins, the executive director of the American Red Cross Valdosta.

Volunteering is mostly virtual now, and Jenkins says the organization has never been busier despite the pandemic.

"Our mission has not stopped because of the pandemic," Jenkins said. "It seems that we are as busy as ever because in the middle of this pandemic we are still responding to single family home fires and multi-apartment complex fires throughout the state."

The Red Cross is in critical need of blood donations.

"Nearly 2,100 blood drive units were canceled in my area," said Jenkins. "So, over 100,000 blood drives since the beginning of COVID have been canceled."

She says it is 100 percent safe to give blood and urges people to do so.

"Safety is a priority for our community," Jenkins said. "Citizens support the blood donation part of our mission so safety for our workforce and safety for our clients is the priority."

In a nutshell, the Red Cross says they need blood donations, volunteers, and monetary donations so they can continue their mission. A mission that they couldn't do without dedicated, selfless volunteers like Connie and Mark Fleetwood.

"You can make your clients know that you care about them even over the phone by the way you talk to them and comfort them so it isn't as bad as I thought it would be," said Connie Fleetwood.

Jenkins says without a mission there's no money and without money, there's no mission.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation to the Red Cross or get more information about donating blood can visit thier website by clicking here or the Georgia Red Cross Facebook page by clicking here.

One unit of blood can save up to three lives.