By Jim Burns, American Red Cross

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Retired teacher/librarian Virginia Randal knew little about the American Red Cross when Hurricane Harvey blasted her beloved South Texas. She’s learned a lot in five weeks.

Her education began when pastors at First Baptist Church reached out to the Red Cross to offer space for a disaster response headquarters.

“The first night Red Cross volunteers occupied our church’s Community Center, they were in here eating fast-food chicken in the dark,” Virginia said, “so I stepped forward and said I could help feed them.”

Red Cross volunteers who were working non-stop to organize the relief operation in Corpus Christi are very glad she did.

“Virginia has been so upbeat,” said Dave Maloney, from San Diego, who has been here for three weeks directing relief efforts in the Coastal Bend region. “She knows everyone by name. She comes around to tell us when the meals are here. She saves meals for the ERV (mobile meal delivery) team members if they’re out on the road at mealtime.”
Virginia shrugs off the compliment. “We’re just helping the Red Cross people who have come from all over the country to help the many residents from our area who are in need,” she said.

“The Red Cross volunteers have been extremely thankful for our support with their meals, and we’ve been extremely thankful for their help in our communities.”

Virginia appreciates what she personally has gotten from her experience.

“I’ve learned a lot about the Red Cross in the past five weeks,” she said. “The people who have come here from all over the country all have had one thing in common: They have a very caring heart.”

In fact, she’s been so impressed that she recently signed up to become a Red Cross volunteer, joining Bulk Distribution teams that have been delivering supplies to some of the communities hardest hit by the hurricane and flooding.

Earlier this week Virginia was in Rockport — ground zero for Harvey’s landfall. While handing out water, snacks, and cleaning supplies, she also shared the compassion for which Red Crossers are known. The people she was helping seemed as grateful for her generous spirit as are the Red Cross workers she has helped feed as part of her “day job.”

“I enjoy working with people and seeing people smile,” Virginia said. “The Red Cross has been more of a blessing to me than I have been to them.”

Virginia Randal has not only helped feed the volunteers who have traveled to the Corpus Christi area as part of the Red Cross response here, she has joined up as a volunteer herself. Earlier this week, she joined a Red Cross Bulk Distribution team, providing supplies to the residents of hard-hit Rockport.