The Stearns County Chapter of the American Red Cross was organized in 1917 with Bishop Joseph Busch as the first Chapter chairman. The first action taken was during World War I, providing canteen services for production workers and organizing the Junior Red Cross. Before the war was over, local workers had to cope with the influenza epidemic.
During the 1920’s, the Stearns County Chapter helped with the tuberculosis epidemic, hiring a nurse to visit the county schools to teach simple health rules. The Chapter sent clothing to the destitute in Albania and sufferers from the Red River Floods. At this time the Chapter also organized first aid and swimming classes throughout the county.
When World War II began, the Chapter set up an office in downtown St. Cloud with paid help. Volunteers made army kits, knit sweaters, and rolled surgical dressings. Blood was collected for use overseas, a railroad car was used as a bloodmobile site. In 1955 the Stearns County Chapter was expanded to include Benton County and renamed the Central Minnesota Chapter.
The Chapter continued to expand services in blood collection, health and safety instruction, and disaster preparedness. In 1982 Eldon Siehl, a prominent St. Cloud businessman, willed the Chapter $100,000, which enabled the Chapter to buy a building and set up operations. Since that time, paid and non-paid staff has increased to meet the ever-growing demand for Red Cross programs in the Central Minnesota area.
In 1999 the Central Minnesota Chapter expanded to include Sherburne County. In addition, service contracts were signed with Morrison and Mille Lacs counties. With this arrangement, the Central Minnesota Chapter American Red Cross provides administrative services to those counties while allowing local volunteers to continue handling direct service. The current counties supported by the Central MN Red Cross are Benton, Big Stone, Chippewa, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, and Wright.
For more information call: 1-800-560-7641