Cascade Region’s Youth Volunteers Exemplify Excellence.

By Cascades Volunteer Harriet Vanderbilt

1884.This is the first known group of young people to help in a Red Cross program.

On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton and a group of friends in Washington, D.C founded the American Red Cross. She led the charitable organization for 23 years. From its inception, Barton encouraged youth to become actively involved in assisting those in need.

In 1884, six children put on a play. The profit was $50, which they donated to the infant organization. Clara Barton used that $50 to help a family affected by a Midwestern flood. By 1898, students became active in helping to provide medical support and comfort to American soldiers during the Spanish-American War. Formation of the Junior Red Cross followed.

Today, thousands of youth in school clubs as well as in local community clubs step up to help in five basic critical areas. They assist people affected by disasters, they support military servicemen and their families, they run blood drives, they teach health and safety education and training, and they assist in international relief and development.

The Cascades Region is 900 youth volunteers strong, a 60% increase from 2022 to 2023. 20 Clubs in the region range in size. Some small schools combine forces. Some large schools have 100 members or more. There are 2 Red Cross Youth Councils, one in SW Washington and the other in NW Oregon. Club officers are elected by school club members each spring.

Meet Christine Elliot, a senior at Mary’s Academy student. She has been volunteering with her mom since she was in kindergarten. She assisted her mom with presentations. Christine has taught Pillowcase Presentations, helped with home fire campaign canvassing, and assisted in parking duty at the vaccination clinics during the COVID outbreak. She’s currently teaching a Be Red Cross Ready class, talking about local weather hazards as well as house fires.

Taj Erickson and Maya Pagano are members of the Red Cross Club at Bend High School. Taj conducted at study on the impact of high school students on the blood shortage. She asked fellow students in her health class to donate blood. Only 2 hands went up. After Taj told them about the vital importance of donating blood, almost all the students were eager to donate. She recently ran a blood drive with Maya Pagano.

Maya is also an enthusiastic Red Cross Club volunteer. She stated that “we have been volunteering for three years, managing the Bend High blood drives. We love connecting the Bend High community with the city of Bend and others around the country, to help those in need of blood donations.”

High School clubs in SW Washington annually come together to Trick or Treat for Disaster. They dress in costume and go door-to-door to ask for funds for disaster relief. Last year, they raised $2,847-$2,588 in cash, $115 in checks, and $144 in the Donor Drive. Clubs in both SW Washington and in NW Oregon annually hold a leadership development conference. Many skills are taught that form a foundation for the future.

Cascades Region Youth Volunteer Program members are always ready and able to help, to teach, to make a difference in another person’s life. Their energy is boundless and abundant! Learn more at