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Volunteers Assemble First Aid Kits To Help Americares Help The World

One by one, in assembly line fashion, about 30 volunteers from Voya Financial assembled first aid kits on Tuesday morning at Americares headquarters in Stamford, to celebrate Giving Tuesday. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Volunteers from Voya Financial, along with Americares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis in the middle, center Photo Credit: contributed
Volunteers from Voya Financial helping to fill first aid kits at Americares in Stamford Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Americares in Stamford coordinated an event for Giving Tuesday. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Items that made up the first aid kits. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox

STAMFORD, Conn. — One by one, in assembly line fashion, 1,000 first aid kits were put together by 40 volunteers from Voya Financial on Tuesday morning at the Americares headquarters in Stamford.

The event celebrated Giving Tuesday, which “is a day to focus on charitable giving -- whether it’s a gift of your time or a financial gift, it’s a great way to give back,” said Donna Porstner, associate director of media relations at Americares, a global relief agency.

“The first aid kids will be prepositioned here for distribution all over the world to help in disaster situations,” Porstner said.

The kits were stuffed with a dozen items — both donated and purchased — such as pain relievers, bandages, hydrocortisone creme, burn gel, gauze, antibiotic and paper tape.

Americares responds to about 30 emergencies worldwide each year — both natural disasters and humanitarian crises, Porstner said.

The agency stores the kits in its 50,000-square-foot Stamford warehouse for distribution to families displaced by tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and other emergencies.

“We support the underserved populations in the U.S. We work with the uninsured and underinsured through free clinics and health centers," she said.

According to Christine Squires, chief development officer for Americares, “We will use these kits to restock our shelves. The kits will be at the ready so we can ship them out at a moment’s notice.

“Our last kitting event took place a month ago to replenish our shelves because we had sent emergency supplies to Haiti for those who were affected by Hurricane Matthew," Squires said.

For Giving Tuesday in 2015, Americares assembled 500 kits. “This year, we’ve doubled our goal,” Squires said.

According to Michael J. Nyenhuis, Americares chief executive officer, Giving Tuesday has emerged as the next big thing in the holiday season.

“Giving Tuesday was started by the 92nd Street Y about five years ago in New York. It was a way that mobilized people to think of philanthropy this time of year as adopted by organizations across the world,” he said. “Last year, there was 150 million dollars raised through Giving Tuesday.”

He said of all the emergency responses that Americares has contributed to over the past year, “only a few of them were big enough in attention to generate resources to fund them, so it’s the annual emergency response partners like Voya that help us be prepared to be able to respond to those sorts of things.”

Kate Dischino, director of Emergency Response at Americares, said the agency has responded to such disasters as Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and earthquake survivors in Ecuador.

“Americares is known for our ability to respond to immediate health needs and restore access to health services,” she said. “We are able to replenish critical medicine and supplies that have been damaged."

Americares, which was founded in 1979, is a health-focused relief and development organization that helps people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing health programs, medicine and medical supplies.

It has had a 10-year partnership with Voya Financial, which is based in Manhattan and Windsor.

For more information or to contribute to Americares, click here .

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