Thursday, October 6, 2016

Volunteering from a College Student’s Perspective

The following post was written by Laiken Hobbs, a volunteer from Eastern Kentucky.

When I first got the opportunity to become an intern with American Red Cross I was ecstatic. My first meetings with the Eastern Kentucky Chapter Director, Joanna, consisted of talking about all the opportunities ARC had to offer me. All I can remember is wondering where I was going to “start.”

I’ve had many “first experiences” with the Red Cross that have given me new perspectives on life. What some would consider “simple experiences” have changed the way I process my own thoughts and also carry out my everyday routines.

Home Fire

Learning you typically have less than two minutes to escape a home fire was eye opening for me, especially as a college student. I’m now more aware of my surroundings in the home I rent. I make sure to unplug all things as I leave my house, especially my straightener, and also check all smoke alarms, upstairs and downstairs. I also try to be cautious if our fire alarms are flashing red to indicate they are dying. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings especially when you have the “I’ll do it later” college mentality.

I stress to my friends, co-workers and even acquaintances the importance of smoke alarms in homes and how the Red Cross will install them for free. When I actually got the opportunity to go and install smoke alarms in homes in the Eastern Kentucky region, I felt like I was making a difference by simply installing smoke alarms in these homes knowing these individuals more than likely couldn’t afford smoke alarms on their own.

West Virginia Floods

I can honestly say I have never learned as much as I learned about communication as I did when I traveled to West Virginia (WV) to the WV Red Cross headquarters. Due to flooding in July, WV was in a state of emergency and many towns were completely destroyed. Joanna had always talked to me about what a Red Cross crisis situation was like, but experiencing it first hand was one of my best experiences I’ve had as an intern. I sat in awe and stared at multiple people trying to get a glimpse of what task they were doing. As a public relations “junkie” I felt like I couldn’t get enough of what was going on. I was amazed there were so many people appearing from so many parts of the country. Every time I walked in and out of room, it seemed that volunteers were multiplying.

I felt excited when Red Cross people I had never seen before, were excited because the fundraising team got more money donated. I felt emotional when reading the Facebook messages of people who were asking for help. I felt like even though I really didn’t have the slightest clue of what was happening around me that I was contributing to making a difference by doing the smallest tasks. It was this day that I realized how big of an organization the American Red Cross really is.

Blood Drive

It took me awhile to come around to donating blood due to being terrified of needles. When I found out there was a blood shortage, I worked up the nerve to donate. I was amazed and impressed with how great my first donating experience was. Being a tech savvy college student, I immediately downloaded the blood donor app and kept very close watch on it to find out my blood type and my donated blood’s “journey.” I shared the app with my friends and it appealed to them making them want to donate blood too. When I found out my blood type was O+ making me a universal donor, I automatically decided I would give blood regularly. When I can give blood again in September, I will round up my friends and make sure to bring them with me.

When you’re a college student life is so fast pace. It’s the beginning of the fall semester and you blink and its Christmas break. Being a Red Cross intern gives me so much more than experience and communication skills. I feel like it’s my way of giving back to the world. Have you ever heard the saying, “Be the type of person you want to meet?” I live by the saying and the American Red Cross helps me to do so. If I were in need of fire alarms would I want to have them installed in my home for free? Yes. If my home of 21 years was destroyed by flood waters would I want and need assistance? Yes. If I were in need of blood, would I accept a donation by someone who was kind enough to donate in order to save lives? Yes. Even as a college student, when you feel like you’re living in a whirlwind, the small amount of time you can give impacts more people than you realize.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

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