Dear Friend,

As Chairman of the Board for your local Red Cross - the Colonial Crossroads Chapter -- I am constantly reminded of the generosity of Summit residents. Today I am writing to inform you of an emergency that hit our town earlier this week.

Monday afternoon, there was a multi-family house fire on Walnut Street that displaced 37 people. Families with infants, senior citizens and two pregnant women were left standing on the sidewalk without shoes or coats and with nowhere to go. The temperature was well below freezing.

The Colonial Crossroads Chapter was on the scene immediately. Our highly-trained Disaster Action Team, which is on call and ready to go 24/7, went to work canteening for the fire department and emergency first aid squad and immediately securing shelter, clothes and hot food for these frightened individuals. Reaching out to other community partners in Summit, we were able to establish a Red Cross shelter at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit. Disaster Action Team members have been manning that shelter 24 hours a day. These individuals have worked tirelessly to arrange for all basic necessities including, food, medical assistance, replacing prescription medications, providing rides to medical appointments even making sure the children get to Brayton school.

The cost of keeping a team trained and ready to respond this quickly is enormous. The cost of keeping a family sheltered is enormous. That is why I am asking for your help. Please call 908-273-2076 or stop by the Colonial Crossroads Chapter at 695 Springfield Avenue in Summit to make a financial donation. Any amount you are able to give is vital in keeping our programs and services up and running. Please circulate this column to as many people as you can.

Did you know that our Red Cross chapter has been serving local residents for more than 90 years? Please help us ensure that we will always be here to help those in a time of crisis. We receive no funding from national Red Cross for local disasters like this. We need your help, Summit needs your help.

Thank you.

Michael Wattick