By Kevin Sunday
Valentine’s Day is a day to treasure our relationships, feast on chocolate and fill our children’s classrooms with heart-shaped candies and decorations. The holiday certainly has its share of schmaltz and triteness, but it’s also an opportunity to be reminded of what we are grateful for. Chief among my gratitude list is serving as chairman of the board of directors for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, and I’ll tell you why.
This past weekend, more than 100 million Americans came together to watch the Super Bowl. But a few weeks ago, eyes across the country were glued to their TV screens to see what was happening on the field. Except that time, it wasn’t to see acrobatic catches and broken tackles, but to watch a team of paramedics deliver CPR to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, whose heart stopped after a freak injury.
The incident was a reminder that disaster can strike at any moment, and when it does, it will be by the virtue and grace of both those close to us and complete strangers who come to our aid. Millions of Americans prayed for Hamlin’s life to be saved, and, miraculously, it was – in no small part thanks to the CPR delivered on the field.
CPR saves thousands of lives a year, and is a skill almost any of us can learn in an afternoon. Each year, the American Red Cross responds to disasters around the world, as well as provides life-saving training like CPR and first aid to more than five million Americans. The Damar Hamlin incident was a reminder of how critical this type of training is. To sign up for a class near you, visit redcross.org/cpr.
Of course, learning how to deliver first aid or CPR isn’t the only way to help care for your loved ones or your neighbors. Our nation is still in dire need of blood donations. Our communities are in need of volunteers to help install fire alarms in disadvantaged housing. Our brave young men and women who enlist in the military need a cheering crowd of neighbors to send them off – and to help bring them home if their family has an emergency. And our fellow countrymen will need a place to stay and help getting back on their feet when floods, fire and disasters strike. All of this takes time and resources, and all of it is delivered through the Red Cross through the generosity of community volunteers and donors.
I’m grateful and honored to help serve this organization’s mission, and I hope these words have warmed your heart this Valentine’s Day. Visit redcross.org today to learn more about how you can help.
Kevin Sunday is director of government affairs with the PA Chamber. He serves as chairman of the Central PA Chapter of the American Red Cross.