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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – March is Red Cross Month, and Wednesday, March 27, is the organization’s Giving Day. A way you can help is through donations to the Red Cross House. It’s a short-term recovery center unique to the Philadelphia region that provides much more than just a safe place to stay, and it relies solely on donations.
Edward Gambrell recently lost his home to a fire, and if not for the Red Cross House, it’s unclear where he’d be today.
“I was lost,” Gambrell says. “For the first time in my life, I didn’t know which way to turn, until I came here. Thank God for them.”
The Red Cross House in University City has helped those like Gambrell for 15 years, assisting those displaced by fires, floods and other disasters. Many lose more than just their homes and possessions.
“Sometimes people come here – they lose lives,” residential care supervisor Darlene Williams says. “We are glad to just be here to help them.”
The Red Cross House does more than help. The organization provides its services for free, including a room and bathroom for the entire family, three meals a day, areas to unwind, and information on everything from finances to housing, as well as trauma and loss counseling.
“We help them focus and move forward,” case manager Maureen Streeter says.
“Treated us like gold,” Mike Beltle says. “They were great.”
The Beltles have now been displaced not once, but twice, by fire.
“I love them,” Robyn Beltle says. “I love them. I feel like they’re family.”
Those in need can stay anywhere between three days and three weeks. Last year alone, the Red Cross House served roughly 950 people, including 17,000 overnight stays and 50,000 meals.
As a veteran, helping others is a mission Gambrell lives by.
“The first thing you do when something happens to somebody, help them, don’t even think, help them,” Gambrell says.
And with the assistance of the Red Cross House, he’s prepared to pick up where he left off.
“I feel like me again,” he says. “I feel like a Marine. I feel good, and we only go forward.”
Beyond Giving Day, the Red Ball will take place on Saturday, March 30. It is a huge fundraiser for the house. You can buy tickets online, here.