Hawai‘i Red Cross celebrates 90 years

The American Red Cross is celebrating its 90th anniversary in Hawai‘i, having been established in the islands in 1917.

Red Cross humanitarian work in the state dates back to 1898. During the Spanish American War, Princess Kaiulani, along with 300 other women, cared for sick and wounded soldiers en route from the Philippines.

On Sept. 14, 1917, a Red Cross flag sewn by Queen Liliuokalani was presented to the territorial governor and flew over Iolani Palace during WWI, while Red Cross volunteers rolled bandages in the throne room. During the war, Hawai‘i residents worked to sew and knit surgical dressings, clothing, tents and other items for the war front.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Red Cross. Canteen Corps prepared and served meals, Motor Corps transported women in labor to the hospital and donors to the Blood Bank, production workers made surgical dressings, and home service assisted with communication between servicemen and their families. At the hospital, nurse aides tended to the wounded. Volunteers were affectionately called Gray Ladies because of their uniforms.

In 1937, a branch of the Hawai‘i Red Cross was opened on Kaua‘i. Today, the office is situated on Puaole St. in Lihu‘e.

From hurricanes ‘Iniki and Iwa, to the 40 days of rain and KaLoko Dam burst, to every day fires and other disasters, local Red Cross volunteers are ready to respond 24 hours a day, year-round.

In addition to disaster response and preparedness, the Red Cross provides training in CPR, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming, nurse aide, family caregiving, baby-sitting and pet first aid. It also provides emergency communication between deployed military service members and their loved ones.

For more information, visit www.hawaiiredcross.org.


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