By Christy Peters, American Red Cross
For many, the Valentine’s Day holiday means finding the perfect card and picking out the best chocolate heart to share with someone special. But for blood donors across northern Ohio, this holiday means a longstanding tradition of giving love by giving blood at the annual Give From the Heart Blood Drive.
On Tuesday, February 9, donors from across northeast Ohio helped save lives by donating at the Cleveland Marriot East in Warrensville Heights. As is the case with so many traditions during the pandemic, the event was slightly different than in past years. One thing that had not changed was the commitment of so many to take an hour out of their day to help someone in need.
“I believe that everything I have is from the Lord. That includes my time, talent, treasure and my body,” said Sylvia Stewart-Lumkin, a donor from Cleveland Heights. “This is my way to give of myself to help someone in need.” Sylvia has given at this event before and is also a regular donor at Mt. Gillion Missionary Baptist Church.
Latisha Bowen of University Heights also gave on Tuesday and is type O positive. “I started donating blood in college. This is my third donation in the last year,” she said. “I’ve just always donated blood.”
For Meredith Reinhard, this blood drive marked the first time she’s given blood. “As a first year PA student beginning in May, my goal for 2021 was to give back and go through the experience of donating blood,” she said. “I love that I get to save three lives and find out my blood type!”
The Red Cross typically has a difficult time keeping the blood supply strong during the winter months when inclement weather and seasonal illnesses can impact donors. This year the pandemic adds in another challenge in meeting the constant need for blood products. Thanks to the 212 blood donors who came to give Tuesday, 208 pints of blood were collected for patients in need. That means up to 624 people may be helped, as each unit of donated blood can potentially help three people.
For those who were not able to give on Tuesday, the Red Cross continues to host blood drives throughout the region. You can find blood drives near you by visiting RedCrossBlood.org and searching by your zip code or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals can also download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, which makes it easy and convenient to schedule and manage donation appointments and track the lifetime impact of your donations.
For more photos from the 2021 Give from the Heart blood drive, visit our Flickr album.