By Diane Toomey

Sid Crook-Hustler, her two roommates and their two kids experienced a nightmare. Sid was working at McDonald’s in the winter of 2011, along with one of her roommates, when a call came in that their home was on fire. They fled on foot into the snow, running down the road when a kind driver spotted the two women and offered a ride.

On arrival, they discovered their home was a total loss. All but a single load of clothes in the dryer was destroyed by fire, water and smoke damage.

A transformer had blown in the winter storm, causing a power surge that the old wiring in their rented home in Fall City could not handle. Thankfully, no one was home.

Sid and her roommates were in their early 20s. Getting renters insurance didn’t cross their minds. What did cross their minds was despair. They had lost everything and had no means to rebuild. At the recommendation of Sid’s mom, a former Red Cross volunteer, they made a phone call to the Red Cross. A case worker soon arrived at their condemned home, providing resources to help them begin rebuilding.

The Red Cross is known for helping fire victims by providing food, shelter and support. But the Red Cross is working another important aspect of home fires – prevention. The Home Fire Campaign partners with corporations, local communities, fire departments, and community groups to reduce death and injury from home fires by 25% by 2020. Since its launch in 2014, the campaign is credited with installing 499,803 smoke alarms and saving 111 lives.

Campaigns like the Home Fire Campaign and Red Cross disaster relief assistance are not possible without the generous support of volunteers and donations. Victims often have a hard time expressing their gratitude, but not Sid. She decided to express hers by promoting the Red Cross mission at work.

Today, Sid is in charge of Red Cross donations for her employer, Circle K. Her personal story resonated with co-workers who now enthusiastically support Red Cross fundraising activities. From BBQ’s in the parking lot to drawings with prizes donated by vendors, Sid’s store is currently the second most successful Circle K fundraiser on the West Coast and she is expecting to be number one by year-end.

Sid’s nightmare is over, but she clearly remembers those moments of despair and how the kindness of strangers made such an impact in her time of need. She models that kindness by giving forward to the Red Cross through corporate fundraising activities and enthusiasm for the work of the Red Cross in our communities.

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