That red “plus” is recognized the world over as a sign of safe refuge, medical help, or a hot meal. On November 9, 1944, the International Committee of the Red Cross received the Nobel Peace Prize for their humanitarian efforts during wartime.

Fast-forward to modern day, and the ICRC (not to be confused with the American Red Cross, an emergency response organization that serves domestic and international needs) offers services beyond the battlefield. The Red Cross focuses its efforts on serving citizens of countries ravaged by war, caring for detainees, protecting civilians, and ensuring safe water and health care, among other goals. In 2010, the Red Cross helped more than four million people at over 700 health centers, hospitals, first aid stations, and physical rehab centers across the globe. The ICRC even spreads knowledge through humanitarian response training.

But the Red Cross isn’t the only do-gooder out there. Efforts like Harvard’s Humanitarian Initiative focus on human rights and education; Doctors Without Borders provides medical assistance around the world; and The Hunger Project fights global hunger. For almost every health and fitness issue, there’s an organization fighting to help those in need.

While not all of us can jump right into the fray, we can take a page out of the Red Cross’s book. To celebrate the big win back in 1944, try doing a good deed for someone else— extra points for something health-related! How about donating blood or first aid supplies locally?

 

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