Red Cross Club president seeks to turn compassion into action

When Maria Muzaurieta, of San Jose, started the Red Cross Club at Bolles School two years ago, she saw it as a way to combine her personal interest in medicine, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her desire to “turn compassion into action.”
 “Charitable work represents helping others in need, which is what life is about,” she said. “I’ve always been an entrepreneurial spirit, always starting businesses as a kid or having lemonade sales, so this is a way to channel that spirit into donating to disaster relief and preparedness,” she said. “I chose the Red Cross because they directly alleviate human suffering of people who go through disasters, and prepare people. This way, by using my time, I feel like I’m making a change locally in my community.”
Muzaurieta first learned about American Red Cross youth organizations when Red Cross Volunteer Manager Meghan Hotchkiss spoke about the organization during a leadership class at her school.
CatherineMaige_01Muzaurieta said she was attracted to everything about the organization: its core value of helping so those in need won’t be alone, its global presence, and its many avenues of service – disaster relief, lifesaving blood drives, training and certification and assisting military families.
Soon she and a few friends started the club at Bolles and began fundraising eventually donating $1,000 to the American Red Cross at the end of last year.
Now a senior, Muzaurieta is president of a club that boasts nearly 60 members and was named Bolles’ Club of the Year last spring.
Her efforts have not gone unrecognized by the regional chapter. Muzaurieta was named Northeast Florida’s Red Cross Youth volunteer of the year, not only for her efforts at Bolles but also for work she has done outside of school in conjunction with the local chapter based in Riverside.
“Maria is a combination of grit, determination and a lively personality,” said Hotchkiss. “She’s got all the qualities you look for in the future generation. She is very personable and hardworking. When additional leadership opportunities present themselves, she always steps up to the plate.”
Under Muzaurieta’s leadership, Red Cross club members at Bolles can be seen seeking donations through the Mother’s Day Cards fundraiser, the Spirit Day and Jeans Day fundraiser, Halloween Candy Grams, bake sales, carnation flower sales, and her personal favorite, the Pinata Party fundraiser, when the club tied a piñata to a tree on campus and offered people a chance to hit it for a small donation.
This year she hopes to have club members teach Red Cross “pillowcase” training to third, fourth and fifth graders on Bolles Whitehurst campus and perhaps at other schools within the San Marco community. The program teaches family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills needed in a crisis and encourages elementary school students to build their own emergency supplies kit.
“We strive to help people learn how to sell products and create the maximum amount of opportunities for anyone to get involved,” she said. “Because our activities do not require any specific skills, anyone is able to get involved, get (community service) hours and have fun,” she said. “We put the fun in fundraising, for sure.”
By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News
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