Even on Christmas, Red Cross answers calls for aid

A Christmas morning fire forced dozens of Austinites out of their homes and scorched their apartment building. While many lost everything, one organization of volunteers was and still is there to give people a lifeline.

AUSTIN - Even on Christmas, Red Cross answers calls for aid.

A fire at The Hendrix apartment complex left 12 out of 24 units in one building completely destroyed and the other 12 uninhabitable. 

Emergency responders were on scene putting out the flames and ensuring that no people or animals were injured, and at the same time, the Red Cross were there helping those affected figure out what comes next.

"There is no organized chaos," Red Cross worker Rick Perkins said. "It's just chaos."

Perkins was one of a handful of Red Cross workers who assisted residents Christmas morning. 

"We try to come in with some sort of tranquility or peace," he said. 

Behind the scenes, Red Cross workers come in and make contact with the residents. According to Central and South Texas Communications Director Bristel Minsker, they aim to target each person's needs and respond accordingly. 

"We guide them towards the first step to getting back on their feet," she said. "Things like a hotel stay, clothing, food ... we even have licensed medical health professionals."

Even on a day like Christmas when most of the country was home and off work, volunteers came out to help those in need. 

"Red Cross volunteers are the ones who are willing to give up time with their friends, give up time with their families on some of those important holidays," Minsker said. "They step up when their neighbors need them."

It's a difficult but important role that can be the only real semblance of hope for those who've lost everything. That's why Minsker said recruiting more volunteers and resources is critical for the Red Cross. 

"All you really need to become a Red Cross volunteer is the desire to help your neighbors and the willingness to do so," she said. 

According to Minsker, monetary donations are always welcome, but volunteer time can be even more in demand. To find out more on how to get involved with your local chapter of the Red Cross, check their website by clicking here.

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