LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The American Red Cross called together Louisville area families who were hit by devastating home fires in 2018 for a night of holiday cheer.
The 32nd annual Firefighters and Red Cross Holiday Party had about a hundred little ones on the guest list and no one went home empty-handed.
Children and their parents applauded as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived aboard a metro fire truck, delivering welcomed smiles to children, and relief to parents after a tough year.
Families credited the Red Cross with helping them in their moments of shock and despair.
“(Red Cross volunteers) were on site, they were on the scene. They showed up at the fire. And you know for me I was really emotional," victim Kaitline Guy said. "I was just lost for words because I didn’t want to believe this was happening.”
In August, Guy, her fiancé, and their two children watched fire burn through their Shepherdsville apartment. She said Red Cross volunteers were there immediately offering help with clothing, food, shelter and more.
“They helped out so much, so much,” Guy said. “They put us up in a hotel for a few nights and they kept calling and checking on us to make sure we were OK. They also paid $300 for a down payment on the place where we live now.”
The Red Cross is best known for showing up at big natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. Seen less often is the work that is done responding to disasters that affect individuals and families--like house fires.
The Red Cross provides immediate financial assistance so families can purchase food and clothing and a hotel room for three nights. Volunteers then work with the families to help direct them through their recovery.
“We do what we call case work and work with the family,” Jennifer Adrio, Kentucky Region American Red Cross CEO, said. “(We) connect them with other resources, make sure we’re there to support them. We have mental health workers that help people through it as well.”