This year, the Peterborough branch of the Canadian Red Cross is celebrating its centennial. The organization has devoted 100 years of service in Peterborough to humanitarian efforts worldwide, nationally, and locally.
The international organization has existed for over 150 years and is founded on the basis of seven principles: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, and Universality. There are 187 national organizations that provide humanitarian support to those in need.
The Peterborough branch was founded in 1914 as an extension of the Canadian Red Cross. At the time, they were participating in national efforts to support Canadian soldiers fighting in the First World War. Local volunteers would knit socks that were shipped to war front and dispersed amongst soldiers.
Since that time, the Red Cross has been a staple community organization and charity of the community.
Since 1983, they have been located at an historical mansion called The Harstone House that provides a hub for much of the organization’s activities.
The knitting program that founded the branch is maintained today in the Winter Warmth program, in which volunteers knit mittens, hats, and scarfs for partner organizations in the region that distribute these articles to men, women, and children in need.
Other programs that the Red Cross offers locally are First Aid courses, healthcare equipment loans, RespectED (an education program that combats abuse), and fundraising for the International Red Cross operations. Key to national and local operations of the Red Cross is the disaster management program that mobilizes when there are regional disasters to provide support to victims of disasters.
In 2004, Peterborough saw the local disaster management team mobilize when the city was hit by a severe rainstorm and much of the city flooded. Evacuations were organized promptly and over 200 local residents were supported by the Red Cross. The Red Cross set up shelters and provided personal necessities to those displaced.
Last year, several students at Trent organized to extend the reach of the Peterborough branch to campus. As one of the first years that the student group has organized, executive members are looking to define what role the group takes on campus. They have been successful in organizing fundraising campaigns for Typhoon Haiyan last year with UNICEF Trent, and hope to continue this fundraising work in the coming years.
The Red Cross offers a number of ways for community members to get involved. Whether that is as a front-desk volunteer, a volunteer knitter, or as an organizing member of the student group, they are welcoming of all contributions.
In the next coming weeks, the Red Cross is organizing a few events that are open to the community. On December 5th, there is a film screening at the Harstone House (565 Water St.) of It’s a Wonderful Life. Refreshments will be provided and entrance is by donation.
The Trent Red Cross will be hosting a knitting workshop on campus for 12pm-2pm on December 3.