This is a sponsored posting on behalf of the American Red Cross. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I still remember watching the planes hit the towers on September 11, 2001. I was a first-year at Spelman College and this was the first huge natural disaster I remember. After that, things changed. Instead of hurriedly speeding past each other, people began to look at each other in the eyes. We began to see each other differently and see the importance of taking care of our communities.

Since then, I’ve seen more natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina, Maria and as of recently, Dorian. I’ve not been directly affected by them but whenever they hit, the question that always comes to mind is, “How can I help?”. And more importantly, who IS helping the people in need?

American Red Cross: Helping Those In Need

When I visited the Red Cross, I found out some really interesting things–the main piece of information being that major disasters is NOT the main thing they do.

That’s right.

While the American Red Cross definitely provides volunteers for major disasters (both here and overseas), the thing they are most involved with is in house fires. This was really eye-opening to me because I didn’t realize how prevalent that house fires were. Or how involved the Red Cross was in the cleanup and prevention of them.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Red Cross is committed to helping and giving back to their communities which is something that is important to me as well.

Taking Care of Our Communities is For Everyone

In addition to my pending involvement with the American Red Cross (I’ve been a blood donor with them for more than half my life–bananas, right?), I’ve been part of volunteer organizations since I could remember. From middle school through college, service hours were something that HAD to be completed in order to graduate.

My kids and I have built out baggies for the homeless that contain non-perishable foods, basic toiletry items, and a gift card for $5 so this is something that they’re learning as well. Recently, I shared in my Instagram Stories how I spent an entire day doing community service projects with a group called Classy Living Society where we donated pajamas, cleaned up litter and more.

Taking care of our communities is something that's important both during tragedies and when there is none. Volunteering locally is one way to do this.

Take care of our communities is important. When an emergency happens, we need our communities to surround us so that we can get back on our feet. But we also need to take care of these communities and the people in it when we aren’t in need.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved, check out the American Red Cross for volunteer opportunities.

Do you volunteer? What are some ways you give back?