The Connecticut Chapter of the American Red Cross will hold a new volunteer orientation session on Wednesday, March 31, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the American Red Cross office located at 39 Leroy Ave. in Darien.

The American Red Cross needs volunteers to support blood drives in Darien and the surrounding communities. Volunteers are needed for registration, escort and for serving refreshments to blood donors.

"Volunteers are a critical link in the blood supply chain," said Theresa Addison, director of volunteer resources at the Connecticut Chapter of the American Red Cross. "Volunteers help to keep our blood supply strong in Connecticut." Addison said that no specialized skills are needed. "We can provide you with the training you need at a convenient location. The basic requirement for blood drive volunteers is a desire to help."

The American Red Cross also seeks volunteers to help with local disaster response; health and safety instruction; and to help with local fund raising activities in Darien and surrounding communities. The Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies with the help of volunteers.

The orientation will provide an opportunity to learn more about the work of the American Red Cross and the specific volunteer opportunities that are available.

Pre-registration for the session is required. Call 877-243-5727 ext. 2803 for details and to register. You may also request information or register by email to Rita.Vendrillo@ctredcross.org.Potential volunteers should allow some extra time following the orientation for a placement interview and to complete the volunteer registration process.

A broad range of volunteer opportunities is available. Training is available for all volunteer assignments.

The American Red Cross workforce is more than 95 percent volunteer. Its work is accomplished through donations of time, money and blood by generous individuals.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. In Connecticut, the American Red Cross responds to more than 500 local disasters each year, primarily residential fires; collects more than 155,000 units of blood; teaches lifesaving skills to more than 200,000 people each year; and supports thousands of military families with emergency communications and other services. The American Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission.