FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Since its founding in 1881, the American Red Cross has responded in all types of natural disasters and emergency circumstances related to war. When these emergencies happen, the Red Cross is often mentioned in headlines. However, many Red Cross volunteers quietly help out in communities doing mundane, day-to-day work such as assisting patients in outpatient clinics.

At Fort Jackson, the Red Cross youth organization, called American Red Cross "VolunTEENS" is thriving, and making real contributions to the community. The school year program, which runs from September to June, is for high school and middle school students at least 13 years old.

Monthly service projects are the center of the activities, but fun and new experiences are included as well. Last year, the group volunteered for Harvest Hope Food Bank, the fire safety festival and the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony. In January the group provided information to patients at Moncrief Army Community Hospital on how to prevent influenza and what to do if infected with the flu. In February, the VolunTEENS delivered handmade Valentine's Day cards to patients at the Dorn VA Medical Center as part of the annual "Valentines for Vets" event.

The group is scheduled to conduct a second service day at Harvest Hope, which will be supported by both the VolunTEENs and their families.

Two of the VolunTEENS, Cody Gorski and Johannah Deguit, had their first experience when the group visited Scales Avenue Child Development Center and presented a Red Cross program that included a skit to promote healthy hand-wash techniques. Fueled by the positive experiences, Cody and Johannah applied for the summer session at MACH.

During the summer months, Volun- TEENS work at MACH doing a variety of things to help out. The summer program provides opportunities and service hours for teens interested in the medical field. They gain experience and the opportunity to give back to the Fort Jackson community.

The summer VolunTEEN program is open to volunteers 14 to 19 years old. Those interested can pick up an application at the Fort Jackson Red Cross Office or can request an application by emailing beginning April 1.

Slots are limited and preference is given to students interested in medical careers. An orientation for the summer program is scheduled for the beginning of June and teens are expected to commit to volunteering for about six weeks.