By Rhea Mahbubani
6:50 PM PDT, June 22, 2013
Jay Peeters prefers not to discuss his time in the United States Army.
He admits, "I've been shot at and blown up," and leaves it at that.
A remnant of his 20 years of service, though, is an appreciation for the American Red Cross. While Peeters was an officer, the organization hosted a funeral for his colleague's deceased relative, helped pay bills and provided physical and mental healthcare.
The son of a Vietnam veteran, Peeters, 46, is determined not to let people forget that their lives are being defended all year round.
Toward this end, the Red Cross was named the charity of choice at the Orange County Antique Market, which he co-produces within the Orange County Marketplace. Private donors and vendors who contribute a portion of their sales benefit disaster relief in tornado-stricken Oklahoma.
"We make no money from this show — we lose money most of the time," he said.
According to Regional Communications Manager Daphne Hart, Red Cross services include CPR and first aid classes, spreading the word about disaster preparedness, connecting military families during emergencies, supporting wounded warriors, and more.
"Many people may not realize that the Red Cross doesn't only respond to large-scale disasters, such as the Oklahoma tornado or Superstorm Sandy," she said. "Our volunteers respond any time there is a disaster, from a house fire affecting one family to a neighborhood evacuation."
Unlike a government agency, Hart said, the Red Cross relies on public support for its programs.
The group, which recently gained help via a screening of the "Great Gatsby" at the Port Theater in Corona del Mar and a drive-through fundraiser at the Honda Center, will utilize the collected resources to open shelters, provide warm meals and comfort to the residents of Moore, Okla.
A 2.6-mile wide EF5 tornado with wind speeds up to 295 mph flattened houses, caused flooding and 19 casualties when it landed southwest of El Reno minutes after 6 p.m. on June 1.
"Over the past month, more than 1,800 Red Cross workers have been part of our response, and nearly 770 workers are there now," Hart said. "Since the tornado, our volunteers have served nearly 460,000 meals and snacks; distributed almost 400,000 relief items such as sunscreen, ice chests, buckets, gloves, dust masks, flashlights, tarps, shovels and rakes; and provided more than 6,300 overnight stays in disaster shelters."
The weekend-long event, which lasts from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., showcases World War II mementos, vintage records, old garden plows, weighing scales and fans, decorative knick-knacks and even a marble worth $2,000. Peeters estimates that prices range from 50 cents to $11,000 — the value of a Thomas C. Molesworth horse bench, marked down from $30,000.
Caulette Young, an Anaheim resident, walked around the OC Fair & Event Center with her sister and a gleeful expression on her face. A regular at the OC Marketplace, she called her first experience at the OC Antique Market a "pleasant surprise," brandishing her prized acquisition — a two-tone vintage Coach bag.
Peeters, who is also an appraiser, said the $60 bag would normally fetch almost $700.
"I'm already looking out for Christmas gift ideas," Young said, laughing.