March is Red Cross Month: Honoring Humanitarian Heroes

Volunteers help with registration on St. Croix. (Photo courtesy American Red Cross)

The tradition of Red Cross Month began in March 1943 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first national proclamation. The American Red Cross of the U.S. Virgin is celebrating the month-long observance, which recognizes generation after generation of compassionate individuals who have come together to deliver its humanitarian mission, the agency announced.

“The month of March is a special time — we are fortunate to celebrate both Red Cross Month and Virgin Islands History Month simultaneously,” says Tina Beazer, executive director. “We are proud to honor each and every volunteer who has served with a heart for humanitarian service in our island community.”

American Red Cross History in the Islands

With more than a century of compassionate service, the Red Cross traces its local history back to 1904, when the islands were still under the rule of Denmark, according to the press release.

The first local chapter, then known as the Santa Cruz Chapter, was chartered on Dec. 12, 1917, after the islands had become U.S. territory. The name was formally changed to the St. Croix Chapter in 1963. A chapter dedicated to the islands of St. Thomas and St. John was chartered May 9, 1918, expanding services to the three islands, the press release stated.

In the summer of 1920, a cadre of social workers, librarians and nurses from the American Red Cross on the mainland traveled to the recently acquired U.S. Virgin Islands. This led to the establishment of nursing programs in local schools and the establishment of the territory’s first library, St. Thomas Public Library, which still operates today, the release stated.

Humanitarian disaster relief activities soon followed when Hurricane Gale passed directly over the territory on August 28, 1924. This storm devastated the island of St. John, causing at least 100 casualties. Red Cross then expanded services beyond disaster relief to include emergency preparedness, working to enhance community resilience and reduce human suffering, it said.

In September 2017, Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the territory within two weeks of each other, with Irma pummeling St. Thomas and St. John, followed by Maria’s devastation of St. Croix. In response to these disasters, the Red Cross worked with partners to provide vital aid for residents with communications and power out across the islands. In the immediate aftermath, we worked to support sheltering for island residents who had lost their homes, as well as feeding and emotional support. For some survivors who remained on the islands but went weeks without power, Red Cross volunteers visited residents in their homes to assess their needs and provided items like generators and clean-up kits, according to the release.

Volunteers Gail and Langle Shazor (Photo courtesy American Red Cross)

Today, Red Cross supporters are preparing to address emergency needs driven by the growing frequency and intensity of natural disasters while working to foster greater resiliency in our communities. National Red Cross programs such as the Home Fire (Safety) Campaign, Youth Disaster Preparedness and Be Red Cross Ready help us educate the Virgin Islands community, it said.

On Jan. 27, Red Cross workers partnered with the Virgin Islands Fire Service and several community organizations to install smoke alarms in communities on St. Croix and St. Thomas. More than 80 households were served in one day, with 181 free smoke alarms installed and home fire safety education conducted. Staff and volunteers continue to hold trainings, exercises, and meetings in preparation for any natural disaster that may arrive on our shores, the release stated.

As the community comes together to commemorate Red Cross Month, the work has never been more relevant or urgent. Virgin Islanders are invited to learn more about the Red Cross mission and how to help.

  • VOLUNTEER: The American Red Cross is an organization for the people, by the people. The backbone of the Red Cross is our volunteers, who represent over 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce on the islands. Without their dedication, our mission would not be possible. Apply online at or call 340-778-5104 (St. Croix) or 340-774-0375 (St. Thomas and St. John).
  • GIVE FINANCIALLY: Those who donate at will be part of the 10th annual Red Cross Giving Day on March 27, which aims to rally 30,000 supporters nationwide to help people affected by disasters big and small.
  • LEARN LIFESAVING SKILLS: The Red Cross offers a full suite of lifesaving skills classes that can be taken completely online at

The American Red Cross of the U.S. Virgin Islands has offices in St. Croix and St. Thomas (serving St. Thomas, St. John, and the Water Island districts). Call us at 340-778-5104 (STX) or 340-774-0375 (STT). For more information, please visit