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March 2008 Themes for Community Outreach

American Red Cross Month

March is American Red Cross Month, a month long celebration of Red Cross accomplishments and a look forward to future goals. The month-long commemoration was created in the 1940s when the Red Cross started a "Roll Call" drive to increase public support during wartime. After discussions with President Franklin Roosevelt, the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, an official call for support was issued, and he declared the whole month of March Red Cross Month. Each President since has issued a proclamation for the month. The 2006 Presidential Proclamation is available on The White House website.

The Great American Cleanup

The Great American Cleanup is the nation's largest annual community improvement program and is held every year from March 1st through May 31st. Safety increases in clean communities: crime is diminished; public health issues are mitigated – such as removing health hazards from drinking water and cleaning up dumpsites to reduce the risk of mosquitoes, rodents, and the threat of West Nile disease; and children can play more safely in parks and recreation areas. The Great American Cleanup is organized by Keep American Beautiful, a national nonprofit public education organization dedicated since 1953 to engaging individuals to take great responsibility for improving their local community environments. For half a century, Keep America Beautiful has been the nation's leading community improvement organization successfully implementing an effective, systematic strategy for educating on recycling and reducing litter, and changing individual attitudes about solid waste. Information on Keep America Beautiful is available online and information on the Great American Cleanup, including a Toolbox for Community Change is available.

National Women's History Month

March provides an opportunity to reach out to women in your community – through newspaper articles, local television news interviews, and speeches – highlighting the strides women in the area are making through work with Citizen Corps. Consider reaching out to area Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls with a message of community safety through these programs. The National Park Service page for Women's History Month can help you tie local activities to historical contributions of women throughout our history.

March 9, 2008: Daylight Savings Time

It's time to "spring forward" with Daylight Savings Time. When you change your clocks this season, don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide monitors. It's easy to overlook such seemingly minor tasks, but it could save your life. Distribute local fire statistics to local media and ask them to remind citizens in your community of the importance in changing their batteries. You may want to take this opportunity to encourage individuals to change the batteries in their flashlights and to replace the extra batteries in their disaster supply kits as well.

March 16-22, 2008: National Poison Prevention Week

According to the Poison Prevention Week Council, one million phone calls are placed to Poison Control Centers annually by adults seeking help when children have swallowed something harmful. And statistics from the same organization show that approximately 30 children die each year from accidental poisoning. With this in mind, approach your area Poison Control Center about partnering to raise awareness of the steps parents and caregivers in your community can take to keep harmful products out of children's reach.

Additionally, you may want to consider partnering with a printing company to create and distribute magnets, posters and other materials with Poison Control and Citizen Corps contact information. The Center for Disease Control maintains information on household poisons and a checklist to ensure home are safer from accidental poisonings.


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about 1,000 tornadoes are reported across the United States in an average year – resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries nationwide. Peak months differ according to region according to NOAA, with a peak season of March through May in southern states and peak months during the summer in northern states. If your community is at risk of being hit by tornadoes, use this month to prepare yourself, your family, and your neighbors. Consider hosting an event at a local school or community center to arm your neighbors with tornado disaster supply kits and tornado safety tips. (Visit NOAAs page on "tornados ... Nature's Most Violent Storms" for more information.) Invite local media and offer interviews with trained volunteers on hand.

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