By Alia Naffouj, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMarch 18, 2016
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 18, 2016) -- Camp Zama's Red Cross and Zama Community Spouses' Association held a celebratory barbecue March 15 outside the Red Cross building, in the parking lot.
The barbecue was held in honor of Red Cross Month, and as a remembrance for the fifth anniversary of the "Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami," which cause catastrophic damage to Japan's eastern coast on March 11, 2011.
The event provide free popcorn, a bouncy castle for the youth to play, free hamburgers and hotdogs, and entertainment from the U.S. Army Japan Band.
Donna Butler, Red Cross regional program manager, said the purpose the barbecue was to bring people in to learn about preparedness and what to do before and after a disaster.
"We also want it to be a community event to just bring the community together," said Butler.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared March Red Cross Month, said Butler, and every year the current president will proclaim the same.
According to redcross.org, the Red Cross provides many different services besides disaster preparedness and recovery to include health and safety courses, first aid, CPR, AED courses, babysitting courses, pool safety courses, life guard courses, learning to swim classes, and military communication messaging courses.
Butler said volunteers are very important to Camp Zama's Red Cross.
"Ninety-eight percent of the help comes from the volunteers," she said. Camp Zama has close to 100 volunteers in a variety of areas.
"All these people you see here, are all volunteers and I count on them tremendously for everything. I couldn't possibly do it without them, they're great, "said Butler.
Sasha Ridley, a Camp Zama Red Cross volunteer, said she volunteers up to four hours weekly, as well as help out at special events, since October 2015.
"I think that (the Red Cross) provides a really critical service to our community, disaster preparedness, disaster response, humanitarian response," said Ridley, "and I think these are things I feel really passionate about.
"I really wanted to choose an organization that I felt really spoke to what my values are as well."
Ridley said there are "many great organizations on Camp Zama" that allow volunteer opportunities because they don't have enough personnel.
"I feel like if you've got a little bit of time to spare then really there is nothing more rewarding than coming out and making these organizations stronger," said Ridley.