Kiley Murray, executive director if the Texas Panhandle Chapter of the Red Cross, has worn a lot of hats in his life: teacher, pastor, serving in military and military representative for the now-closed Vistas College.

But all of these professions have a common thread that weaves them all together, if you ask Murray.

“I like straight up helping people,” Murray said. “Everything I’ve done has been service-oriented and this is just a big part of everything combined.”

Founded in 1881, the American Red Cross is a household name. Red Cross volunteers are seen on TV helping victims of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes.

But those functions, though important, are only a part of what the charitable organization does, Murray said.

“We are the largest blood-collection agency in the country, although we don’t do that here in the Panhandle,” he said.

Another important function of the Red Cross is providing immediate assistance to families after a house fire.

We are there after the fire department shows ups,” Murray said. “We give people a breather between the disaster and starting their lives again. We have already done this about 100 times so far this year in the Panhandle.”

Another service is delivering emergency notifications, both within the United States and internationally.

“We have a large immigrant population (in the Panhandle),” Murray said. “We can deliver what looks like a Western Union Telegram to family members out of the country.”

Murray is one of two full-time employees working out of an office on South Harrison Street.

The remainder of the personnel are volunteers.

“We are volunteer driven,” Murray said.

Besides receiving funds from the United Way, the Panhandle Chapter gets money from private donations, businesses and other granting agencies.

Thinking about taking a first aid or CPR class? Then look up the Red Cross.

Here are some statistics on what the Red Cross does to make an impact every day:

* Nearly 180 times a day - or every eight minutes - Red Cross workers help a family affected by a home fire or other disaster.

* The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day to meet the constant need for lifesaving blood.

* More than 16,000 people each day receive lifesaving Red Cross health and safety training and information, making our communities safer.

* Every day, nearly 1,100 services are provided to members of the military, veterans and their families, helping them prepare for, cope with and respond to the unique challenges of military life.

* On average, more than 482,000 children a day receive a measles or rubella vaccination from the Red Cross and its partners.

For more information about the Red Cross or to volunteer, call 806-376-6300 or visit