PORTLAND, Ore. -- It's been a busy year for the Red Cross as the U.S. was hit with disaster after disaster.
From hurricanes to fires, local Red Cross volunteers have been and still are helping people in dire situations. Nearly 400 volunteers from Oregon and southwest Washington were deployed to disaster zones across the U.S. to help people in need.
Storm Olund, who lives in Oregon City, is one of those volunteers. He was deployed to southern California in early December. The Thomas Wildfire leveled entire neighborhoods.
“It was devastating for sure. You'd go into a neighborhood and there would be houses gone,” said Olund. “It's something you don't really understand until you see it,” he said.
Monique Dugaw with the Red Cross said 2017 has been a record year.
“In a matter of about 50 days over the fall season, the Red Cross sheltered more people than we have in the past five years,” Dugaw said.
She said compared to last year, the nonprofit responded to more disasters, helped more people, and sent more volunteers to devastated areas.
Dugaw said about a dozen responders are still on the ground in Puerto Rico and California.
“Many of them spent the holiday in Puerto Rico helping to deliver fresh water or making sure people have food,” said Dugaw. “Our responders are stepping up, really in droves.”
Responders like Olund stepping up when they're needed. At 23 years old, Olund has a whole life ahead of him. It's a life he wants to dedicate to helping people.
“I just think that if something like that happened in my community, I would want somebody there to help us,” he said.
Dugaw said there was a 13 percent increase in disasters the organization responded to, a 26 percent increase in the number of families they've helped, and a 74 percent increase in responders deployed to disaster zones.
Dugaw said the Red Cross is able to do what it does thanks to generous donations. If you'd like to donate, go to the Red Cross website.
Here is a breakdown from the Red Cross detailing what each amount of money will buy:
$10 provides one hot meal and additional snacks to a person - These nourishing meals, which include a main course, snacks and a drink, are provided by Red Cross workers and distributed at shelters or in communities via mobile kitchens in emergency response vehicles.
$20 provides comfort supplies for two families of four - These supplies are stored and ready for distribution nationwide. Comfort kits contain deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, facial tissues, wash cloth, shampoo, liquid soap, lotion, comb, razor and shaving cream.
$50 provides a full day of food and shelter for one person - This service includes providing breakfast, lunch and dinner, the costs to mobilize and distribute a cot, two blankets and a comfort kit as well as the costs to support the Red Cross workers providing this service.
$200 provides a full day of food and shelter to a family of four - This service includes providing breakfast, lunch and dinner, the costs to mobilize and distribute a cot, two blankets and a comfort kit as well as the costs of Red Cross workers to provide this service.