ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- The American Red Cross is an organization that's nationwide and they provide a variety of services. For the Finger Lakes Red Cross Chapter, there's one particular service they're extremely passionate about. 

The Service to the Armed Forces is a program that helps members of the military, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to, the challenges of military service.

"Our Services to Armed Forces Program is one of our oldest services that we've provided. It really started on the battlefield of the Civil War with Clara Barton's effort to try to connect the dead and the wounded with their families following the fatalities of the Civil War," says Brian Mcconnell, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Red Cross.

Since that time, the Red Cross has become the designated agency by the Department of Defense to become both a communications and financial conduit for military members and their families.

"If a service member's family falls into an emergency situation, that service member can put in for emergency leave, and the American Red Cross will verify that message for the Department of Defense and their commands so they can put in a request for that," Mcconnell added.

The Finger Lakes Red Cross officials say the Service to Armed Forces program is extremely special to their chapter.

"It's a real honor to be able to support families when they're apart during deployments and or basic training. When you're pulling individuals away from their day to day operations or their day to day lives, it's important to be able to support them and their families when there's needs," Mcconnell says.

This Saturday, the Red Cross will be hosting a free military family BBQ at Eldridge Park in Elmira from noon to 2:00 p.m., to recognize the men and women who serve this country, but the fallen servicemembers as well.

To register for the event, contact the Red Cross at 716-878-2371 or email chuck.mcgannon@redcross.org.