PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Nearly 20 Sailors from Naval Station Pearl Harbor were on the corner of Kamehameha Highway and Kaonohi Street March 5 to raise money for the "Hats Off to American Red Cross" campaign.
During the annual fundraiser, off-duty police officers, firefighters, civil defense personnel, civilian volunteers and military members "take off their hats" in salute to the Red Cross. The volunteers also enter the community to raise money from the public.
"As far as I know, this is the first time the Red Cross has used military volunteers to help in the fund drive," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Felitcia Cruz, region bachelor housing leading chief petty officer and volunteer coordinator for the event. "We in the military have asked to participate in the neighborhood donation drives."
The Sailors were among 15 groups participating in the fund drive statewide that day.
"It was fabulous," said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, chief executive officer for American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter. "We raised a total of around $45,000 statewide on Saturday."
The Sailors stood on the corner and collected money in hard hats from motorists as they were stopped at red lights. Cruz said this year's drive was especially significant.
"The Red Cross has been hit hard providing funds for tsunami relief," she said, referring to the December tsunami that hit Thailand and Southeast Asia. "The Hawaii chapter has provided their contribution, and that has depleted their reserves. If Hawaii was hit with an emergency, they would probably be short, so this is a chance to build up their reserves."
Matayoshi said she appreciated the Sailors' participation during the fund drive.
"We are so happy and gratified for all their support," she said.
Capt. Ronald Cox, Naval Station Pearl Harbor commanding officer and chief of staff for Navy Region Hawaii, was on hand for the fund drive. He said he was proud to be able to help the organization that does so much for so many.
"The Red Cross provides an incredible amount of disaster relief support," he began, "not only locally, but around the world."
The Red Cross has had a presence in Hawaii since 1898, when some 300 women, including Princess Kaiulani, organized a Red Cross society to aid the sick and wounded soldiers stopping here on transports from the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Among the missions of the Red Cross are disaster relief services, health and safety courses and Armed Forces emergency services. Cruz said the Red Cross has been available to help individuals for so long, she and the other volunteers did not hesitate when the chance came up to help the organization.
"The opportunity came up at one of our morning meetings," she explained. "Lots of people asked where the money was going because they know the Red Cross had provided funds for the relief in Thailand. Once we got the information, we knew it was the right thing to do."
"This is a good cause. It really helps a lot of people," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Tanya Sylvester, who participated in the fund drive. "I'm out here to support Red Cross and to support my command. The goal is to get as much money as possible to help people get their lives back together."
Cox said he was pleased to see so many Sailors participating and praised the community for their involvement.
"I'm proud of the Sailors who are out here and willing to give their time off to volunteer for a cause like this," he said. "I'm also impressed with the generosity of the people in the community."
For related news, visit the Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cnrh.