Day of service: Red Cross leads effort to install up to 300 smoke detectors on MLK Day

SAN BENITO — On Monday, Red Cross volunteers are expected to install up to 300 smoke detectors in residences at two different mobile home parks in the city.

But, they need your help to do it.

In order to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Red Cross is calling on people across the country to volunteer their time and talents to help others in need on Monday.

The installation of smoke alarms and discussions with residents about their safety plans in the case of a fire is the project for the local Red Cross.

American Red Cross South Texas Chapter Executive Director Iris Martinez Juergens was clear with the goal of the Red Cross and this project.

“We want to reduce death by house fire by 25 percent in the next five years,” Juergens said. “This is a good opportunity for people if they want to come out and help with this.”

That is a national goal for the Red Cross and the hope is the installation or placement of batteries in smoke detectors will help the organization reach that goal.

This effort is in conjunction with the San Benito Fire Department, which Juergens said has been great to work with in this effort.

It is part of the “Join the Red Cross Home Fire campaign.” The Red Cross is asking every household in America to join in taking two steps that can save lives — check or install smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

On Friday, the department was out and about determining which of the homes were in need of smoke detectors and which just needed batteries or to talk about their plan in case of a fire.

That will allow volunteers on Monday to head to each home and perform the necessary work. That all will happen after two hours of training, which will be held from 8 a.m. to about 10 a.m.

Juergens said the volunteer training will revolve around safety procedures and guidance on how to install the smoke alarms.

After the training and then again after lunch, volunteers will head out in groups to the homes and install and check the smoke detectors. This is all at no charge to the people in the homes. It is part of the Red Cross mission.

Juergens said it is important for people to know the Red Cross is there for them if they need them.

Recently, Weslaco held a similar effort where volunteers installed about 120 detectors.

The American Red Cross is powered almost exclusively by volunteerism and the generosity of donors. The organization is 134 years old and depends on more than 340,000 volunteers across the country to fulfill its mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.

If You Go

What: Support Martin Luther King Jr. and Day of Service by volunteering with the Red Cross to install smoke detectors in homes.

When: Monday, Jan. 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Meet at the San Benito Community Building, 210 E. Heywood Drive, for training from 8 to 10 a.m. followed by visits to local homes to install and check smoke detectors.


The Red Cross depends on the support of the American people to assist those affected by disasters. Anyone can make a donation by visiting, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions also may be sent to Red Cross, 2700 Southwest Fwy, Houston TX, 77098.