NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches family is feeling new-found appreciation for the American Red Cross.
Ten days ago, their home was heavily damaged by fire. On Monday, they told East Texas News they're on the road to recovery, thanks to Red Cross volunteers.
The emotions brought on by a house fire aren't fully felt until it happens. Maria Jenkins learned that on January 12.
"Fifty-million things go through your mind," Jenkins said. "You just race home, and you see flames coming out of your home. It's just ... it's surreal, for sure."
On one of the coldest days of the year, a fireplace fire broke out while Maria and her family were at work and school. When Maria arrived, three American Red Cross volunteers were there to provide guidance and comfort.
"No one tells you what to do right after a fire," Jenkins said. "I didn't even know Red Cross responded to fires."
A lot of people may not realize this, but house fires are the most predominant disasters for Red Cross. The Red Cross is chartered to have volunteers on site within two hours of notification.
Volunteer Bobbie Ann Anderson was at the Jenkins fire in a matter of minutes. Other volunteers that day got similar calls.
"At that time, we were working five fires," Anderson said. "One here, three in Angelina and one in Shelby County. Going all at the same time. It's been a busy week."
"There's certainly a need for you guys," Jenkins said.
The best way to fulfill that need is to attend a Red Cross recruitment fair. One is coming up on Thursday at the Nacogdoches Exposition Center.
"We'll have people rotating through sessions, and we'll present all of the different areas of volunteer positions we have in Red Cross."
Understandably, disaster victims are often future volunteers.
"If you're thinking about volunteering do it," Jenkins said. "I'm going to be there joining you soon when life settles down."
The Red Cross Recruitment Fair for all Deep East Texas Territory counties is Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Nacogdoches County Exposition Center, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Bring a photo ID if you intend to start the volunteer process.
Check out this flyer for more details about the recruitment fair.