(CHICAGO, IL) – On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, CBS hosted the fourth annual CBS Chicago Cares Radio/Telethon to benefit disaster relief for the American Red Cross.
Volunteers answered the phones for 14 hours Nov. 24 to take donations at the CBS Broadcast Center downtown. Even people walking by the studio, like Ania, donated cash and coins after school.
CBS Director of Community Affairs Shawnelle Richie said in 2012 the station wanted to do something to give back and decided to partner with the Red Cross. “So, we told them that we would want to raise money and showcase all the good that they do,” said Richie.
This year’s telethon focused on home fires – one of the biggest disaster-related threats to families. The Red Cross responds to 3 to 4 fires every day in our community, helping families with food and shelter.
While volunteers collected donations on the phone, another group helped out at the Chicago Fire Department’s Engine Company 38 on 16th St. in North Lawndale. They gave out 500 free carbon monoxide detectors and signed up 130 residents for smoke alarm installations.
“These are life safety devices that really do work in emergency situations,” said Deputy Fire Chief Dan Cunningham.
The Red Cross recently launched a nationwide program called the Home Fire Campaign. This initiative aims to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by home fires by 25 percent over the next several years by installing smoke alarms in homes located in high-risk communities. Families are also educated about fire safety and make a fire escape plan.
Claire Pywell, Regional Individual and Community Preparedness Manager for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, said the campaign has “really just begun, but so far, nationally, we can document 27 lives saved by all the smoke alarm installs that we’ve done.”
The Home Fire Campaign requires volunteers to install the alarms in people’s homes and provide fire safety education on site. The carbon monoxide detectors were donated from First Alert, allowing volunteers to give them away free of charge at the fire station during the telethon.
In addition to the smoke detectors, Cunningham said it is important for people to plan a meeting place outside the home and actually practice exit drills in their home, “I actually make my own family practice it.”
The CBS telethon raised more than $1 million for the Red Cross. Corporate donors included Aon, Ace Hardware, Astellas USA Foundation, CDW, McDonald’s and Motorola Solutions Foundation.
If you’d like to help people affected by disasters, big or small, call 1-800-RED CROSS or go to redcross.org.
- CBS 2 Chicago – When disaster strikes the Red Cross is there to help – 11.24.15
- CBS 2 Chicago – Red Cross volunteer had a unique call to service – 11.24.15
- CBS 2 Chicago – Time is of the essence when your home catches fire 11.14.15
- CBS 2 Chicago – Some homes have hidden fire risks 11.24.15
- Yahoo News – Ace Hardware donates $25K to Red Cross 11.24.15
- Yahoo News – Aon Corporation donates $500K to Red Cross 11.24.15
Story by Eleanor Lyon, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois
Photos by Bill Biederman and Danny Diaz, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois