Donors step up to give blood

YOUNGSTOWN — Wanting to help out in this novel coronavirus pandemic, area residents came out Sunday to do their part at a six-hour blood drive hosted by the Jewish Community Center.

Michael Rawl, executive director of the JCC, said when he was on a recent conference call with the United Way, he learned through American Red Cross officials of a critical blood shortage.

“I was told there was already a blood shortage due to the flu season. Now with the coronavirus, they are experiencing an even bigger shortage. There are some people afraid to give blood,” Rawl said.

Rawl said he spoke with Karen Conklin, executive director of the Lake to River chapter of the ARC, who told him a particular protocol is followed to make the blood donation as safe as possible.

“Everyone who donated is spaced apart to keep everyone safe. We have some JCC staff helping today,” he said.

Blood drives also are scheduled today at Mineral Ridge High School and Wednesday at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown. Others are listed at www.redcrossblood.org, where people can register.

Kristen Gallagher, disaster program specialist with the local Red Cross chapter, said many public blood drives have been canceled because of state social distancing orders.

Instead, those who want to donate blood are asked to register online at redcross blood.org and to include their ZIP code, which will list local blood drive sites and allow them to schedule an appointment. She said first-time donors need to create a username and password, which will allow for scheduling an appointment.

Kelly McCormick, rentals / events coordinator at the JCC, said she checked the temperature of everyone coming into the center for the blood drive. She also asked if everyone was feeling well or had been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19 or had recently had traveled internationally.

“We have had people come in and, if it is crowded inside, we ask them to wait in their cars if all the chairs are filled,” McCormick said about the four to five chairs in the hallway, which were spaced at 6 feet apart outside the blood draw room.

Girard resident Anka Krakora said she has not given blood since the Dr. Martin Luther King Day holiday.

“I saw where there is a need for blood donations because of the coronavirus, so I wanted to help by donating today. I hope what I and others are doing will help others,” she said.

Youngstown resident Alex Chick said he has a friend who works with the Red Cross outreach who told him through Facebook there was a critical blood need.

“She reached out to me and others on how much of a need there was, and I told her I would donate,” Chick said.

Youngstown resident Brian Reed, who has a rare O-negative blood type, said wanted to help people.

Briana Caudill, one of the Red Cross workers, said all blood types are needed.

She said because there is more caution taking place, people may have to wait a little longer than usual at the drives.

“We are keeping social distancing in mind, which is so important,” Caudill said.

Reed said a family member has several autoimmune disorders so he understands the importance of having a blood supply available.

“People have helped my wife and others, so I wanted to help,” Reed said.

Liberty resident Jodi Stoyak, a former township trustee, said she is a regular blood donor, usually giving at the Churchill United Methodist Church.

“I have read and heard how important it is now more than ever to donate blood, so that is why I am here,” Stoyak said.

Rawl said the more he spoke with Red Cross officials, he and others realized the need to hold the blood drive at the JCC.

“When we originally canceled and closed everything, that included the blood drive. Then when I learned of the real need for blood, we decided to hold one,” said Rawl who chatted with donors in the hallway.



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