Woodcraft Supports “Sound the Alarm” Smoke Alarm Installation Campaign

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Sharon Kesselring, executive director for the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia, gives “Sound the Alarm Save a Life” volunteers a pep talk prior to the first of two days that volunteers spent installing new smoke alarms for residents in the Parkersburg area. (Photo by Jess Mancini, courtesy of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.)

According to the American Red Cross national website, “Every day seven people die in home fires, and the Red Cross wants to do everything we can to prevent these needless tragedies”

To change that statistic, the American Red Cross asked volunteers nationwide to help install 100,000 free smoke alarms and raise funds for lifesaving service during the “Sound the Alarm” events scheduled April 27-May 12,  2019, in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Two of those events were planned in the Parkersburg, West Virginia, area.

“What you do today is lifesaving work,” Sharon Kesselring, executive director for the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia, told volunteers gathered on April 30. She said six lives have been saved in Wood County by the presence of working smoke alarms. In West Virginia the number is 25, while nationwide 580 families have saved. 

Woodcraft Employee among “Sound the Alarm” Corporate Volunteers

Linda Hashman, a merchandise buyer for Woodcraft Supply, headquartered in Parkersburg, joined other “Sound the Alarm Save a Life” volunteers in going door to door Tuesday, April 30, and Saturday, May 4, in Parkersburg to install smoke alarms or replace batteries – free of charge – for residents who needed them.

“Volunteering is important to me because it showcases the best in people and what they have to offer and reminds us that there is and always will be hope for a better future,” Hashman said.

The April 30 event involved volunteers from corporate sponsors who teamed with Red Cross volunteers to canvass Parkersburg neighborhoods and install smoke alarms or batteries and provide fire safety information. United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley and Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation provided $25,000 for “Sound the Alarm”; Dominion also provided a rally area for volunteers to gather prior to volunteer teams going into the community.

Hashman was teamed with two Red Cross team members. “We completed 39 installs that day, which I was informed was amazing and the best completed for the day. This was in South Parkersburg area,” Hashman said.

In addition to offering employees the opportunity to volunteer on Tuesday, Woodcraft also contributed to funding for the event. “We know it saves lives,” Marketing Manager Liz Matheny said. “That’s why when we gave our annual $2,500 donation this year we designated it for the ‘Sound the Alarm’ program.”

Four Woodcraft employees initially signed up, but three were not able to participate.

Other regional sponsors of the event are United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Dominion Energy Foundation, the Bernard McDonough Foundation, Erie Insurance, First Energy Foundation, WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center, the Bridgeport GFC Junior Woman’s Club, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Wood County Rotary, United Bank, State Farm Insurance, and Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School.

National sponsors are Air BNB, Delta, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Nissan Motors

Hashman Joins Firefighters Who Volunteered May 4

On Saturday, May 4, fire departments from Wirt and Wood Counties got involved. “Ten of the 12 fire departments were able to supply volunteers for the Saturday event,” Kesselring said. “The City of Parkersburg assured success with this program by having their firefighters work side-by-side with Red Cross volunteers to install across all parts of Parkersburg. Volunteer firefighters worked with Red Cross volunteers within their designated response areas in Wood and Wirt Counties.” 

Linda Hashman, front left, and her daughter, Paisley, rear left, were teamed with an Frank Dotson, an American Red Cross volunteer, and Emily Allman, a State Farm volunteer, for the May 4 install event.

Hashman brought her nine-year-old daughter, Paisley Ann McDonald, to volunteer on May 4.  “We covered Lubeck and the South Parkersburg area and completed 36 installations,” she said.  

According to Kesselring, 386 alarms were installed on April 30 and 790 on May 4.

“We also had an installation event in the Walton and Newton areas of Roane County on May 11 during which we installed 90 alarms,” Kesselring said. “And there were alarms installed throughout Wood and Wirt counties in the two-week period, so we are up to 1,376 alarms and 460 homes made safer as a result,” Kesselring said. “We might yet meet the 1,500 mark, which is the goal for this event.”

One day as a volunteer can change someone else's life forever (photo from the American Red Cross West Virginia Region website).

The American Red Cross has sponsored the “Sound the Alarm” safety initiative since 2014, with smoke alarm installations continuing year round as inventory allows. However, Kesselring said that in 2018 a signature city (concentrated activity in specific areas in a two-week period) component was added, and this year Parkersburg was designated a signature city, which is why the installation events were scheduled.

“The community support for this project was incredible!” Kesselring said. “Beginning with Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce’s support with city resources, the volunteer firefighter activity in Wood and Wirt counties, and our corporate sponsors’ employee participation and financial support, we were sure to have a successful project. It has been overwhelming and so satisfying to know that many more homes and their residents in our community are safer due to this event. We can’t thank all the participants enough.”

For more information about the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, visit their website.

For information about keeping your family safe, read these tips from the American Red Cross. 

Passing on the Volunteer Ethic

“I volunteer with many organizations around the area,” Hashman shared. “I actually have a nonprofit organization, Helping Hands of WV. In the past I was able to involve Woodcraft with donations for flood victims of West Virginia two years ago. My daughter, who is nine, has been doing this with me since she was able to walk. I find it very important to get her involved so she can understand passion and empathy for others.”

Hashman said she is able to help a variety of people, from tragedy victims to cancer patients to homeless families to kids in school. “It makes me feel like my life has meaning and that I’m doing something to impact the world – I think the world could use some help from all of us right now, and I want my daughter to grow up with the same feeling.”

Congratulations, Linda, for representing Woodcraft in this important community event!!

And congratulations to the American Red Cross and all the volunteers for making many homes safer and sharing fire safety information.


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