by Laura Purcell, Communications Volunteer
November 23, 2020 - November is National Youth Involvement Month (NYIM) here at the Red Cross and we’re celebrating by chatting with one of our most impressive young volunteers.
High school senior Sujay Rao, 17, is not only the founder and president of the Red Cross Club at Cambridge High School, Milton (North Fulton County) but also serves the entire state as the Georgia Field Ambassador for the Red Cross National Youth Council. In this role, he helps to connect and engage Georgia youth volunteers and serve as a communications link between the 29 high school and college clubs and the national team.
Sujay founded the Red Cross Club at Cambridge his Sophomore year and has continued to keep it thriving with about 30 current members. Earlier this year, he applied and was accepted into his position with the National Youth Council. While this year has looked a little different thanks to COVID-19, Sujay still has big plans for his two roles with the Red Cross.
“My main goals are to increase membership in my club, increase the number of Red Cross clubs there are in Georgia, and increase the involvement of those clubs in volunteering and hosting events,” Sujay said. “I believe more students should be aware (that) the Red Cross is an especially important service organization since volunteers are exposed to global events and not just things that take place in our states or communities.”
Sujay and the National Youth Council have been working to raise awareness of the Red Cross and its mission during NYIM with events and activities that fit into this year’s theme, ‘Connect in Place’. Examples include:
· The Red Cross Club at Cambridge High School has planned an International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Youth Action campaign, for which they will undergo training and raise IHL awareness at the school.
· Sujay is working with clubs across the state to plan events including virtual Vaccinate a Village fundraisers (The Red Cross plays a pivotal role in measles and rubella vaccination campaigns worldwide.)
· Clubs are conducting virtual Missing Maps MAPathons, where volunteers come together to map large swaths of land in disaster-stricken areas around the world to help with relief efforts.
· Other activities under discussion are Youth Diversity pledges, food/clothing drives and first aid kit drives.
In addition to these events, Sujay has worked on many other projects with the Red Cross. Under his leadership, the Red Cross Club hosted the first CPR certification class at Cambridge High School and is planning a Zombie Apocalypse-themed blood drive with the chapter at Georgia State University.
As Sujay nears graduation next year, he plans to stay involved with the Red Cross and apply his volunteer experience to his future goals. He hopes to work in the healthcare field and eventually develop technology to reduce the impact of harmful genetic diseases.
“Although I haven’t been able to meet with people in person due to COVID-19, many Red Cross Youth initiatives such as Vaccinate a Village and Missing Maps have taught me more about people in need and how we can move forward to help out in the world,” Sujay said.
Youth volunteers like Sujay are vital to the mission of the Red Cross. There are currently over 800 youth volunteers in Georgia, and there’s always room for more!
“My biggest advice for other students who want to get involved is to just get started!” Sujay said. “Join the Red Cross club at your school; if there isn’t already a club, start one!”
If you’d like to get involved with the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application. Questions? Email:
Suzanne M. Anderson, Regional Youth Engagement Lead for Georgia’s Red Cross at
“Red Cross youth leaders are extremely happy to have new volunteers and we’re here to guide you every step of the way in your Red Cross journey, “he added. “The possibilities are endless when you become a Red Cross volunteer, so the best thing to do is to just start!”