Caring for People and Communities

by Cindy Huge, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Margie Manning knows firsthand the devastation a wildfire can bring. In 2016, the Erskine Fire swept through the neighborhood where Manning and her husband lived. They quickly evacuated with their pets and sought shelter with the American Red Cross. “There were several hundred people in the shelter and even more pets outside, but the Red Cross took such wonderful care of all of us,” said Manning. Unfortunately, when the Manning’s were able to return home, theirs was no longer standing.  

‘We loved the area so very much and have spent most of our lives here, so we re-built our home,” said Manning. 

A year after moving into their new home Mannings’ husband passed away. She was determined to remain in the area since she had so many friends and many young people who would check on her and offer to help in any way. 

“Miss Margie” as she was known to so many people in the Lake Isabella area, was their beloved school bus driver.  

Now five years later, Miss Margie, is sitting outside of the same school she transported children to for 20 years, Woodrow Wallace Elementary School, the site of the current Red Cross shelter for the French Fire.  

Her two dogs and entertaining cat, Garfield, keep her busy. Garfield is frequently annoyed by the barking dogs in the cage next to her own and will stare them down until they stop. After all she has gained that right after living with various dogs for the past 20 years. 

Miss Margie is uncertain of the condition of her home but says she is not worried. She knows she is loved, and she feels that no matter what happens she will stay in Lake Isabella, her forever home. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP – Support people affected by disasters like fires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. For those interested in specifically helping people affected by the Western wildfires, we ask that they write “Western Wildfires” in the memo line of a check and mail it with a completed donation form to the address on the form or to their local Red Cross chapter.

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