The American Red Cross office in Howell is celebrating its 100th anniversary with an open house later this month.

A myriad of activities will be taking place throughout the year, with the open house on May 20th serving as the big kick-off. Disaster Services Volunteer and 100th Anniversary Celebration Chair Kathy Alward says the American Red Cross provides help through key areas. She says the first priority is armed services, as the American Red Cross serves as the contact for anyone needing to get in touch with someone in the armed forces. Other areas include blood services, safety certifications and first aid training, and disaster services in which volunteers respond to local and national disasters such as fires to help people who have been displaced. She noted the local office also served as a shelter for those who lost power due to massive windstorms.

The American Red Cross was formed in 1881, but rapidly expanded in 1917, when the Livingston County chapter was formed, in response to American entering into World War I. Alward says they appreciate all of the support from the public through years, adding that they are 90% volunteer driven and receive no government funding.

The American Red Cross office is located in front of Howell High School, across from the Howell Fire Station on Grand River. The open house on Saturday, May 20th will run from 11am to 3pm. Various historic displays will be available and activities are planned throughout the year to celebrate the 100th anniversary. Alward says some concepts in the works include badge workshops for kids and perhaps a celebrity blood drive. For anyone who might not be able to make it to the open house, Alward says they’ll be moving some of the displays they create over to the Howell Carnegie District Library for the community to enjoy. (JM)