Local Communities Exemplify a Giving Holiday Spirit

December 5, 2011

Communities in Pennsylvania and Virginia have long partnered with the Red Cross on Christmas season blood drives

What do Bedford, Pa., Ebensburg, Pa. and Winchester, Va., have in common?

They share a long-standing commitment of partnering with the American Red Cross by holding large community blood drives on Christmas Eve or days preceding Christmas Eve.

“On behalf of the patients and hospitals we serve, we are deeply grateful to sponsors who hold blood drives during the holiday season,” commented John Hagins, CEO, American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region. “On top of work and family commitments and activities, they take on this important responsibility. The need for blood is constant and doesn’t pause for the holidays.”

He encouraged other communities to add sponsorship of holiday season blood drives to their holiday “to do” list. “With schools being out of session and many businesses being closed or short-staffed, we need additional new sponsors to step up and sponsor their own blood drives or provide feeder groups to our 18 donor centers and other blood drives.”

Bedford, Pa., population of nearly 3,000, has supported a Christmas blood drive since 1997, except for 2008, when a winter storm forced the organizers to postpone the blood drive until February 2009. The drive is typically held on Christmas Eve or a weekday close to Christmas Eve.

This year’s blood drive is scheduled from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm on December 22 at ProCare Sports Plex Activities Center, 125 Willow Grove Drive. The Crossroads Bible Church, formerly called Heartland Hall, has also served as the blood drive site for many years.

For the past 10 years, the drive has been held in memory of Don Roadman, the late local blood services volunteer chairperson who initiated the Christmas Eve blood drive. A total of 1,323 blood donations have been given at the Bedford Christmas blood drive since 1997.

Primary blood drive sponsor is Reed, Wertz and Roadman, the president of which is Don’s son, Todd. “Our commitment to the blood drive started out as a way to honor my father, who was an extremely generous and caring person. What better way than to get behind an organization that gives the gift of life, and what better time of year than when we are celebrating the life of Jesus.”

Additional sponsors include Cessna Radio (Star 100.9, B-Rock 107.5, News Talk 1310 and WAYC-AM 1600), which will conduct live radio remote broadcasts during the blood drive and the Jean Bonnet Tavern and Omni Bedford Springs Resort, both of which have donated gift certificates that presenting donors will be entered to win.

Ebensburg, Pa., the county seat of Cambria County and home to about 3,600 residents, has supported a Christmas blood drive since 1999. The drive is usually held on Christmas Eve, except for when Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday.This year's blood drive will be held on Christmas Eve, December 24, from 8 am to 2 pm.

Over the years, the community’s Christmas blood drives have netted a cumulative 874 blood donations, products from which could help more than 2,600 people.

The Lakeside Community Church of the Nazarene, which on average sponsors a Red Cross blood drive once a month, has sponsored the Christmas blood drive since 2006. Irene Shaffer, blood drive coordinator, explained, “We know blood is needed and we want to help out however we can. What better gift to give during the holidays than giving a gift of life?”

Supporting Shaffer and the Lakeside Church of the Nazarene is American Legion Post 363, which provides refreshments for Red Cross blood drives throughout the year. Shaffer also expressed appreciation to area pizza restaurants that donate pizza for her church’s blood drives.

The Winchester, Va., Christmas Eve blood drive began in 1997. Since then 871 donations have been given. This blood drive is currently sponsored by the Blue Ridge Kiwanis. Their drive is also held on Christmas Eve except for when December 24 falls on a weekend.This year's blood drive will be held Friday, December 23, from Noon to 6 pm at the War Memorial Building.

Will Moore, sponsor coordinator for the Blue Ridge Kiwanis, commented, “Since it is a day or so before Christmas, everyone is in the giving mood, and donating at this time fits the mood and schedules. There's always a crowd that shows up first thing, probably due to getting prepared for the holiday.”

He and his fellow Kiwanis members added, “Overall, the time of the year and the spirit of the year make it succeed. I can’t think of a better time of year to give the gift of life.”

For many years, Kiwanis members also brought the refreshments for the blood drive. For the last several years, the local Red Lobster has donated food.

Hagins added that donors of all blood types are needed currently, particularly those with O positive, O negative and B negative blood types.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia), meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.

Those with specific eligibility questions should call the Red Cross Donor Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276.  Many donors are eligible to give blood every 56 days.

Donation appointments may be scheduled at many Red Cross blood drives. To schedule your blood donation appointment where available call 1-800-RED CROSS (733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

Individuals may also follow the Red Cross on Twitter: www.twitter.com/redcrossGAR.

The Greater Alleghenies Region directly serves hospitals, patients and donors in a 100-county area in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, with more than five-dozen blood products and related services, and also supports blood needs experienced by patients elsewhere in hospitals served through Red Cross Blood Services.