March 11, 2015 Edition

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Hart volunteers with Red
Cross, leading campaign

Kandy Hart of Walnut Ridge is helping to provide a new service in Lawrence County through the American Red Cross as a disaster services volunteer. She is also helping to organize the Red Cross "Every Red Cent Counts" campaign.
John Bland

March is Red Cross Month and the American Red Cross will celebrate with an "Every Red Cent Counts" campaign. Teams are forming in Northeast Arkansas to raise $1,000 each during the month.

The effort will culminate with a Bucket Brigade on Friday, April 10, when volunteers will solicit donations at high traffic areas and at busy storefronts.

American Red Cross volunteer Kandy Hart of Walnut Ridge is helping to coordinate the "Every Red Cent Counts" campaign and is getting help from the current Leadership Lawrence County class. Kandy said she is also getting in contact with schools about conducting a coin drive competition.

Kandy said the American Red Cross does more than just hold blood drives and explained how some of the funds collected in the campaign are being used.

The Red Cross is providing a relatively new service in Lawrence County through Kandy, whose title is disaster services volunteer. In 2014, she worked 10 fires and assisted two flood victims, helping a total of 44 individuals.

Through the Red Cross, Kandy can assist people affected by a disaster with emergency help to meet their needs such as food, shelter, clothing, medication, eye glasses and emotional support. The Red Cross can also provide follow-up assistance.

Kandy plans to work with fire departments in Lawrence County to be able to provide a quicker response to assist disaster victims. In the past year, the Red Cross office in Little Rock has contacted her about fire victims in the county, but this process delays her response time to provide help.

"I'm still learning," she said.

Kandy started volunteering with the Red Cross after the 2009 ice storm and received her five-year volunteer pin at the December awards banquet. "I needed something to do, and a lot of (former or retired) military do this," she added. She is a former member of the U.S. Navy.

During the ice storm, Hart said she volunteered to help then Mayor Michelle Rogers open and set up a shelter at the Walnut Ridge Community Center. Hart, along with Paige VanBrook, got in touch with the Red Cross, and the Red Cross provided food, cots and blankets for the shelter.

Volunteering after Hurricane Sandy struck in October of 2012 is one of Kandy's more memorable experiences with the Red Cross. "I did not know a soul when I went to New York City," she said.

Kandy knows what it is like to need help. In 1997, she was in a serious vehicle accident. At the time, had been in the Navy for a year and a half. She was in training with the Navy as a nuclear electronics technician (ET3) and was en route to transfer from a Naval base in Orlando to one in Charleston, S.C., when the wreck occurred in Jacksonville, Fla.

Kandy, who was not expected to survive, spent two weeks in a coma and three or fours months in the hospital. Among her injuries was TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury, a condition that is more commonly heard about today than it was in 1997.

As a result of the injury, she was no longer able to continue her nuclear electronics technician training and would leave the Navy after her accident. On a positive note, her nephew, Anthony Hart, followed in her footsteps and enlisted in the Navy a few months after she joined. He is now a naval chief.

Because of her accident, Kandy has a heightened sense of compassion and empathy for those suffering and this motivates her to help others through the Red Cross.

To contact Kandy about helping with the "Every Red Cent Counts" campaign, call her at 870-759-0280.

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