Santa Barbara’s chapter of the American Red Cross is feeling the pinch after a majority of this year’s donations were funneled to Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
The American Red Cross — which typically receives a significant portion of its donations during December and January — has collectively raised $284 million for the relief project. The Santa Barbara community alone has donated $100,000 to Haiti through the local chapter. While the outpouring of support for the earthquake disaster has been notable, Santa Barbara County Red Cross Director of Development Kristiana Kocis said the chapter is in need of funding for local programs as well.
“We are starting to do our budgeting for next year and we’re all worried,” Kocis said. “We’re finding that there are more and more financial obstacles to maintain what we are doing.”
Donations made to any national or international disaster through the Red Cross are given in full to the cause. Since none of the funds are retained by local chapters, Red Cross chapters nationwide are facing similar budget problems, Kocis said.
“We definitely do have to scale back the depth of the mission, while still maintaining the breadth of the mission,” Kocis said. “When there’s not a disaster, we are still incredibly busy.”
According to Kocis, the Santa Barbara group provides local disaster preparedness, education and services, as well as direct relief during local disasters.
First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said the Red Cross plays a significant role in the community, and encouraged locals to support the nonprofit.
“The Red Cross is an organization that’s only as good as the support that we as a community provide,” he said.
Individuals can help the local chapter through monetary donations — 91 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs — or by volunteering, Kocis noted.
“One of the great things about the Red Cross is it’s like building a mini career built around what you want to do, and we give you the skills and training to do that,” Kocis said. “[Students] could give up that trip to Woodstock’s this week and donate it to the local chapter.”