Red Cross continues mission during COVID-19

The aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Hanson family's house and storage shed on Easter Sunday, April 12. (Submitted photo)

On Easter Sunday, April 12, a house fire destroyed the home of David and Hope Hanson in the 44000 block of 400th Avenue.

The American Red Cross of Minnesota and Dakotas was called to help.

"We did respond to the fire," Carrie Carlson-Guest, Red Cross Regional Communications Officer, said on the phone with the Focus. "We're helping two adults and three children."

But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the Red Cross responds to disaster, said Carlson-Guest, who is based in Minneapolis. Red Cross has to make sure that everyone stays safe -- including volunteers, as social distancing has become a necessary part of the Red Cross response.

"It's been a different kind of change, but they've been wonderful," Clarson-Guest said. "The mission continues and they're still responding to disasters. We're still there for everyone just in a little bit different way now."


There are many ways that the Red Cross responds with help after a disaster and one of those ways is with a Client Assistance Card, which functions a little bit like a debit card, Carlson-Guest said.

Since the Red Cross' goal is to provide the right help when a disaster strikes, volunteers are sent to connect with the individuals or family who has been affected.

Carrie Carlson-Guest.jpg
Carrie Carlson-Guest, Red Cross Regional Communications Officer

"Depending on how severe the disaster is we can put different levels of money on the card so that they can get what they need," Carlson-Guest said. The needs of a family of five are going to be different from a single person, she said, or the needs of someone who has smoke damage from a kitchen fire is going to be vastly different from someone who's lost their home to fire.

"That's only one piece of the support that we offer to people," Carlon-Guest said. People might need help replacing medication or a driver's license after having to evacuate their homes.

The Red Cross works closely with local fire departments to respond to disasters and it is almost always the fire departments who call the Red Cross, Carlson-Guest said.

The Red Cross also works with community patterns and volunteers from the mental health professionals to help people get through the difficult situations they are dealing with. "Maybe they need something that we don't provide but out patterns does," Carlson-Guest said.


Red Cross volunteers make up 90% of the organization -- this includes virtual volunteers, Carlson-Guest said. Virtual volunteers fill positions within the Red Cross such as Disaster Action Team Duty Officers, who make the calls organizing volunteers.

"They can do that from home in their bunnies slippers if they want," Carlson-Guest said.

How to volunteer

Apply at . For more information contact the American Red Cross:

  • North and South Dakota: call 701-715-8640 or email
  • Minnesota: call 612-391-1923 or email MNRecruit@redcross.rog

Help for Hanson family

  • A GoFundMe site has been set up at .
  • Donations for items are being taken at the In Their Own Words (ITOW) Veterans Museum in Perham. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, those who have donations should call Shirley Davidson at 612-600-5616 to arrange a time to drop off items at the ITOW building.
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