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Local Red Cross expands mission

Big changes have taken place with the Red Cross in Douglas County.

The biggest is the addition of two counties - Grant and Traverse - to the area serviced by the local chapter of the Red Cross.

Another change is the name - pending approval from the American Red Cross.

Previously known as the Douglas County Chapter of the Red Cross, the new name - West Central Minnesota Red Cross - reflects the change in coverage area.

According to Kris Strobel, the new executive director of the local Red Cross (she began her duties last October), both Grant and Traverse counties previously didn't belong to a Red Cross chapter.

When the new fiscal year began, one of the goals of the American Red Cross was to have every county become a part of or member of a chapter, and not just be serviced by a county.

The change means that instead of Douglas County servicing Grant and Traverse counties with Douglas County volunteers and funds, each of those counties will have their own processes and procedures, as well as their own volunteers and instructors, to help with disaster responses and classes.

At least that will be the plan, she said.

Funds will also have to be raised in both of those counties. Money is raised, noted Strobel, by direct mailings, fundraising events, classes and any other way possible.

She added that local Red Cross chapters do not receive funds from the American Red Cross. Money has to be raised locally.

Some money is available for reimbursements after a disaster occurs, she said, adding that it has to be a certain level of disaster.

As for blood drives, both Traverse and Grant counties currently hold them, but the drives are administered out of the Minneapolis area.

Part of that will be changing. Blood drives scheduled and taking place in those counties will still be administered out of Minneapolis, but volunteers who will be running the drives will be local.

"With three counties in our chapter, we have more resources to draw from and it becomes a win-win for all counties involved," said Strobel. "By all working together, we can do a better job serving the people."

Recently, a new board was formed for the West Central Minnesota Red Cross with representatives from both Douglas and Grant counties. Strobel noted, however, that the plan is to have representatives from all three counties.

"We can add additional members, especially from Traverse County," she said.

The board of directors meets every other month and the executive committee (officers of the board) meet on the alternate months.

Members of the board serve two-year terms and rotate every other year.

Anyone interested in becoming a board member may contact Strobel via phone at (320) 763-3800 or by e-mail at

For more information, visit the West Central Minnesota Red Cross Web site at