EMU students join with Red Cross to address fire prevention

The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and the American Red Cross club at Eastern Michigan University teamed up with the Washtenaw-Lenawee County chapter of the American Red Cross on Saturday to raise awareness about home fire prevention and offer free smoke detectors to residents of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

EMU students and high school students from the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area headed to the neighborhoods that saw the most home fires in the last year to hand out literature about how to prevent fires in the home and important emergency contacts.

Thanks to a sponsorship from Key Bank, the canvassers were able to offer free smoke detectors to the residents they visited during the event.

The EMU American Red Cross Club and Nonprofit Leadership Alliance chose to participate in this American Red Cross event in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, a holiday typically marked by community service.

“MLK day is really about turning a philosophy of community back into action,” Donna Duvin, CEO of the Washtenaw-Lenawee County chapter of the American Red Cross said. “This is a chance to really put that in motion and make a significant difference on an issue that is of significant importance to the safety of people here in Washtenaw County and even Lenawee County.”

EMU senior and NLA President Kody Vitale said that the No. 1 disaster that the American Red Cross responds to nationally is residential fires.

“I think this builds a stronger connection between college students and high school students, and the community they live in,” Vitale said. “The Red Cross exists to alleviate human suffering and motivate empowered volunteers to do so and that’s what’s happening today.”

Yllka Vladaj, a junior and member of the EMU American Red Cross Club, said this event gave EMU students the opportunity to positively represent the university to the community and meet new people that can help students to learn and grow.

Junior and NLA Vice President Jared Jeffries feels that EMU students are often too isolated and fail to give back to the Ypsilanti community.

“It’s so important for us as students to remember to reach out and give back to the community,” Jeffries said.

Duvin said that the Washtenaw-Lenawee County area typically sees about 120 families displaced by residential fires every year.

“We know that that’s a significant risk so this is a chance to proactively put information into their hands that not only saves property but also saves lives,” Duvin said.

The volunteer canvassers reached about 1500 residences with their message of fire safety and prevention. More than 15 EMU student volunteer canvassers were in attendance.

“Getting students out here – and getting people out here in general – working to prevent these things is just a very powerful thing,” Vitale said.

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