By Carmela Burke, Red Cross volunteer

Upon approval from managers of a local grocery chain in the City of Calabasas, it was “Ready… set… bake!” for members of the Red Cross Los Angeles Region West Valley Youth Corps. 

Their mission? A bake sale to raise awareness and funds for the Measles and Rubella Initiative.  The team assembled early one morning in April to set up a table at each entrance to the store.  The day they chose had added significance as April 7 was designated World Health Day by the World Health Organization.

The display of baked goods had an array of the familiar and fool-proof: Cookies, cupcakes, bread and brownies. A youth club member walked up to the table with his contribution of individually-wrapped brownie squares, saying it took him eight hours to make them. Why? “I forgot to turn oven on.”  Precious.

Even more endearing than the well-intentioned baker’s rookie mistake is this group’s commitment to teaching their families, friends, and the community about the measles, a highly contagious, but preventable viral disease.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from January 1 to April 4, 2019, individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 19 states—the second greatest number of cases reported in  the United States since 2000.

The American Red Cross, with its Measles and Rubella Initiative partners, have helped vaccinate children in more than 80 countries since 2001, and continue the global fight against measles

“I saw the wide range of areas in which the Red Cross helps the world,” said Allyson Weissman, president of the West Valley Youth Corps Executive Board. “Every year volunteering with the American Red Cross makes me fall more in love with this organization. I have been able to make an impact in the lives of others and met the most amazing Red Cross volunteers.”

Allyson wanted to share her enthusiasm for the Red Cross with her schoolmates, so she established the American Red Cross Club during her sophomore year at Calabasas High School.

The West Valley Youth Corps consists of American Red Cross youth volunteers in the West Valley Region. The majority are members of Red Cross Clubs from different schools, including Calabasas HS, Granada Hills Charter HS, Chaminade College Preparatory, El Camino Real Charter HS, Grover Cleveland Charter HS, John F. Kennedy HS, Van Nuys HS, and Vaughn Charter HS.

The 200-member Corps meet each month to discuss involvement opportunities with the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. In addition to the recent event for the measles initiative, the West Valley Youth Corps had a bake sale to raise money for the California wildfires, conducted puppet shows to teach children about disaster preparedness, and hosted blood drives. 

“We are so fortunate to have these amazing Red Cross youth volunteers,” said Kerry Khan, manager for the Red Cross International Services program in Los Angeles. “The proceeds from this bake sale helps us to continue to vaccinate children across the globe against Measles and Rubella and reach our mission of saving lives.”  

Learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer here.


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