Red Cross Facing Deficit

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The Mid-Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross is facing a budget shortfall of more than $100,000.

Officials say this is the first time ever they are faced with such a critical challenge so early in the fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

The shortfall is currently $117,000. Officials say over spending on disaster response and lower than expected fund raising totals have led to the deficit.

The budget shortfall will also depend on the success of the December direct mail campaign. The Red Cross is looking at ways to cut costs, but say lay-offs are one option it doesn't want to consider. Officials say lay-offs are essentially eliminating services. Extended Web Coverage

What is the Red Cross?

The Red Cross is committed to saving lives and easing suffering. This diverse organization serves humanity and helps by providing relief to victims of disaster, both locally and globally.

In the wake of an earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, hurricane or other disaster, The Red Cross provides relief services to communities across the country and around the world.

The American Red Cross functions independently of the U.S. government but works closely with government agencies during times of major crises. It is responsible for giving aid to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to disaster victims at home and abroad.

History of the Red Cross

The Red Cross idea was born in 1859, when Henry Dunant, a young Swiss man, came upon the scene of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy, between the armies of imperial Austria and the Franco-Sardinian alliance. Some 40,000 men lay dead or dying on the battlefield and the wounded were lacking medical attention. Dunant organized local people to bind the soldiers' wounds and to feed and comfort them. On his return, he called for the creation of national relief societies to assist those wounded in war, and pointed the way to the future Geneva Conventions.

In October 1863, The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was created in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide nonpartisan care to the wounded and sick in times of war. The Red Cross emblem was adopted at this first International Conference as a symbol of neutrality and was to be used by national relief societies. In August 1864, the representatives of 12 governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. The extraordinary efforts of Henry Dunant led to the eventual establishment of the International Red Cross.

Today, the Red Cross Movement incorporates the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the International Federation), as well as National Societies in 175 countries, including the American Red Cross of the United States.

Clara Barton (1821-1912) dominates the early history of the American Red Cross, which was modeled after the International Red Cross. She did not originate the Red Cross idea, but she was the first person to establish a lasting Red Cross Society in America. She successfully organized the American Association of the Red Cross in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 1881. Created to serve America in peace and in war, during times of disaster and national calamity, Barton's organization took its service beyond that of the International Red Cross Movement by adding disaster relief to battlefield assistance. She served as the organization's volunteer president until 1904.