The pandemic has been particularly difficult on non-profit groups that rely on volunteers to operate, and the American Red Cross is asking Iowans for help in order to help other Iowans in need.

Emily Holley, spokeswoman for the agency’s Nebraska-Iowa region, says people who give freely of their time make the charity’s humanitarian mission possible. “One of the things that COVID has affected is that folks are less likely to go to public places and volunteer,” Holley says. “That is harmful to us because we’re an organization where volunteers represent more than 90% of our Red Cross workforce.”

Red Cross offices across Iowa where blood is drawn are always looking for blood donor ambassadors. They do things like welcoming visitors and taking their temperatures before entering agency facilities and blood drives. There is also a high-priority need for transportation specialists to help deliver blood from Red Cross facilities to local hospitals.

“Another option is disaster response volunteers,” Holley says. “Most of the disasters in the U.S. that the Red Cross responds to — every eight minutes — are home fires. Especially during the wintertime, there are more home fires. We need folks who are willing to respond to those home fires.”

In some cases, disaster response volunteers can connect with families by video or phone to provide emotional support, emergency financial assistance, and information to help families begin to recover. “We have so many virtual positions available to help folks,” Holley says. “You don’t even have to leave your house. You can sit in a comfy chair and help out folks affected by disasters.”

For Iowans who are still hesitant to get close to others, she says there’s a wide range of other virtual volunteer opportunities. Go to to find out how you can help.