People in Central Illinois are looking to lend a helping hand for hurricane victims

PEORIA - Many people are still living in Red Cross shelters. Now, the organization is looking for help from people in Central Illinois.

Volunteers from Central Illinois are getting ready to head to head south.

Shay Simmons is the Regional Volunteer Training Lead. She says, "The need particularly for shelter workers in Texas is going to last for weeks and probably months."

After the recent hurricanes, the Red Cross set up special fast-track training centers to prepare volunteer to help with mass care. "Mass care is working in a shelter, it's working in bulk distribution, handing out clean-up kits or food or to work in feeding," says Simmons. And the name fast-track training holds true.

Simmons says, "6 of the students who are in the class today will be on their way to Texas on Monday."

One of those 6 volunteers is Virginia Klopfenstein. She says, "I'll be deployed on Monday to Beaumont Texas as I understand it."

She says in times like this, we need to help each other. "I think there is an enormous need for us to step up and help take care of our own so to speak, and this is one way to do it." That's why 25 people have signed up to volunteer.

Simmons says, "They volunteered to spend 9 hours of their life to being given all of this information so that they can head down south to Texas or to Florida and to help." A few hours of their lives, to help save other’s.

Bill Keister is a first time volunteer. He says, "I've seen so much human suffering. I've seen so much destruction. There are so many people that need so much right now, and I'm able to go and be help. I want to be hands on, my shoes on the ground and help do what I can, just help these people."

If you want to volunteer and help out victims of Irma and Harvey, the Red Cross is holding more of these fast-track training sessions around Central Illinois.

The next closest session will be next Saturday, at Champaign's "I" hotel. The Red Cross offices in Bloomington and Decatur will host training on September 30th, and Peoria's Red Cross will host a second training on October 7th.


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