By Stefanie Bainum
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- When disaster strikes, as in last week's Goose Creek apartment fire, many may want to help but don't know how. After first responders, the American Red Cross is usually the next to arrive to an emergency.
The Red Cross team was quick to respond to Pine Harbour Apartments Thursday. It was the scene of one of the largest fires the Red Cross has seen in years. 45 people were displaced. 21 of those victims are children.
"Number one they greet the clients we hug them; I call our disaster action team 'hug members' because the first thing we do is hug and try to comfort the clients and let them know we the community are here to help them," said American Red Cross Regional CEO, Louise Welch Williams.
"People know when they see the Red Cross that things are going to be okay and there is somebody there to help."
The American Red Cross says it appreciates every single donation it gets, whether that's clothes, food or water. The best way a person can help is through monetary donations.
"The victims of the Goose Creek fire were given debit cards that were capped for money to replace their clothes," Williams said. "The reason we do that is that over the year we have found out that it helps with that recovery process, it restores dignity, it helps recovery, it gives them hope."
Williams says money given to the organization isn't solely for supply donations.
"We give immediate disaster relief based on damage assessment, that's how we are the best stewards to our donors dollars we just don't go hand out money," said Williams. "We have some very stringent guidelines that we give financial assistance based on damage assessment. If the home is destroyed they will get assistance for food clothing and shelter, if they don't need clothing we don't give them money to get clothing."
Also, the Red Cross says they provide health services at disasters. Trained volunteers help victims with lost medications and urgent health needs. Mental health services are also made available.
"Sometimes you just need to talk to someone, it's just devastating," Williams said. "We will be here for the victims of that fire as long as they need us."
If you would like to help those affected by the Goose Creek fire, you can make a monetary donation to (843) 764-2323 or click here for the Lowcountry American Red Cross web site.