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|'Heroes campaign fuels Red Cross|
Sheriff-elect Royce Toney remembers the first time the American Red Cross came to his assistance.
It was during the 1970s when Toney was stationed overseas. One of his children got sick; he needed to go home immediately.
"A sergeant came over to me and said, 'Toney, get your butt back to headquarters, you've got a problem at home, and the Red Cross has notified us to get you back there," he said. "I have no idea how they (Red Cross) found me, but they did, and they helped me get home."
Toney recalls a more recent time when the Red Cross helped him and several Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office deputies following a six-hour hostage standoff. Several deputies had just completed a 12-hour shift when they heard about a husband holding his wife hostage. The deputies, along with Toney, volunteered to head to the scene.
After the situation was over, the exhausted deputies watched as Red Cross personnel arrived and began handing out hot food and drinks to the officers.
Toney says the Red Cross touches the lives of many local residents, and as campaign chairman for the organization's fundraising drive, he's encouraging people to donate money so these services can continue.
"You never know if it could be you … you never know if your house will burn down, or if Mother Nature will turn this parish upside down," Toney said. "I hope that never happens, but if it does, the Red Cross will be there to help."
Northeast Louisiana American Red Cross executive director Anne Patten says one of the biggest expenses for the organization throughout the year is house fires.
"If you've read the newspapers, the last two weeks in America, that's what it's been all about," Patten said. "It's been very tragic, and we feel deeply for all of those who have suffered."
LaVonne LeBlanc with the local chapter of the American Red Cross said house fires also have been a major issue for the local community.
Last week, the Red Cross helped a family whose North 19th Street home burned. The Red Cross arrived to find the family, including eight children, outside in the rain, crying. Immediately the family was placed in a hotel, given necessities, and later they were provided with gift cards to buy other items.
"That's what the money you raise goes to," she said. "It's very important to our neighbors, and one day, it may be important to you."
The "Heroes for the American Red Cross" campaign hopes to raise $40,000 this month. Deadline to turn in donations is March 28.
Donations can be made to the local chapter at 414 Breard St. in Monroe.
Funds collected during this campaign are used by the Red Cross Northeast Louisiana chapter for programs and services in the 11-parish region.