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Potsdam’s Red Cross Club holds year-end meeting, makes donation to Measles Initiative

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POTSDAM - Members of the Potsdam High School Red Cross Club gathered this week for the club’s year-end celebration where it made a $500 donation to the Red Cross Measles Initiative.

Club Advisor Joachim “Joe” VanElls said the donation would be enough to provide vaccinations to 500 children.

President Bethany Gilbert said the initiative is something the club has supported since it started, noting the initiative provides measles vaccines for children in third-world countries, where the disease, which has nearly been eradicated in the U.S., can still remain an issue.

American Red Cross Northern New York Community Executive Jane Gendron said the donation is appreciated and since the initiative began in 2001 great progress has been made in fighting the disease.

“We’re getting really close to eradicating measles,” Ms. Gendron told the group.

The measles initiative is a partnership between the Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the initiative’s website, the goal is to eliminate the disease in five of the six regions served by the World Health Organization by 2020.

Ms. Gilbert said money for the donation came from a high school dance hosted by the club earlier this year.

The $500 donation wasn’t the only donation the club made to the Red Cross this year, as the club also donated $1,100 to the local disaster relief fund, contributing the proceeds of its annual Monster Bash Fun Night and other fundraisers.

Ms. Gilbert said the club was also holding a cookie sale on Friday to help raise money for Lynn Tharrett, a fifth-grade teacher in the district who is battling cancer.

The party, which included food and games, also gave club members a chance to reflect on the year that was.

Mr. VanElls said this year the club has 21 members, continuing its streak of having at least 20 members in the club each year since it was formed three years ago.

We’ve had membership above 20 every year and for a school club that’s really good,” he said.

Other activities the club participated in this year included a Unity Day in October, the Rotary Club’s Wheelchair Challenge, as well as sponsoring a blood drive that collected 46 units of blood.

One staple of the clubs since its inception is supporting American Troops.

Ms. Gilbert said this year the club adopted a platoon and sent 19 boxes of supplies and gifts to the platoon stationed in Afghanistan led by Potsdam graduate Lt. Kevin Lambert.

After arriving home from Afghanistan, Ms. Gilbert said Mr. Lambert visited the club and presented them with an American flag signed by members of the platoon.

The club also sent 200 holiday cards to soldiers stationed overseas, and Valentines to Potsdam seniors participating in Meals on Wheels.

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