What’s more likely? The Browns in the playoffs or you going to Super Bowl LVI

By: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

January 6, 2021- They said it would never happen. It almost did take forever. However, our beloved Cleveland Browns had 1) a good plan, 2) followed through, and on game day, 3) they all delivered. For the first time in almost 20 years, the Dawgs find themselves in the NFL Playoffs. It might be a stretch to expect the Browns to make it all the way to the Super Bowl this year, but maybe next year? And if they did, wouldn’t you like to have a couple tickets to be there? Just plan to donate blood during National Blood Donor Month, and you too could be as lucky as the Browns.  

Stock photo by Vangelis Kovu, digitally edited by Doug Bardwell

1) Here’s your game plan:

The American Red Cross and the National Football League are teaming up this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals – especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 – to give blood and to help tackle the national convalescent plasma shortage. Right now, more donors are needed to help hospital patients get back in the game.

During this critical time, the Red Cross and NFL are thrilled to offer all those who come to donate an opportunity to receive a special thank you this month. Those who come to donate blood or platelets this January will be automatically entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In addition, those who come to give January 1-20, will also be automatically entered to win the Big Game at Home package for an awesome viewing experience safely at home, with a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card to put toward food and fun.

2) Here’s the follow through:

Make an appointment to donate at a convenient location by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa. To protect donors and Red Cross volunteers, walk-ins are no longer permitted during this COVID-19 time. You must make an advance reservation.

Special teams note: There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help – through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients. Health emergencies don’t pause for holidays, game days or a pandemic – blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help patients battling injury and illness.

Leading up to game day, drink plenty of water and eat iron rich foods. The Dawgs recommend lean red meat, but chicken and seafood are good as well.

3) Get ready to deliver on game day:

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online. On the day of your donation, before arriving at the blood drive, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

Grab your helmet and shoulder pads, or at least bring your mask, and arrive a few minutes before kick-off time. If you’ve maintained this game plan, you are definitely going to score – aiding as many as three people with each donation you make. And who knows, you might even be sitting in the stands for Super Bowl LVI. 

Additional information and details are available at https://www.redcrossblood.org/local-homepage/events/super_bowl.html

In the midst of flu, colds and COVID-19, healthy blood donors fill a vital need

By Christy Peters, Regional Communications Manager

It’s that time of year, when many of us are reaching for Kleenex, sipping hot tea and hoping our “slight” headache isn’t the start of something worse. And, as COVID-19 cases rise across the country, the occasional sniffle and cough fills many with more dread than usual.

If you’re one of the fortunate individuals still in tip-top shape, your good health could be a gift to patients who depend on blood transfusions. In order to give blood, donors must be feeling healthy and well on the day of their donation. As illness spreads, the number of eligible blood donors decreases. However, the need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,600 platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide, including 80 hospitals in northern Ohio.

Christine McKenzie of Westlake at the Holiday Blood Drive at Crocker Park, 12/18/20

The Red Cross is encouraging all who are healthy and well to consider making a blood, platelet or plasma donation in the coming weeks. If you have fully recovered from COVID-19, you can help patients who are currently fighting the disease by giving convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation that contains antibodies that might help patients actively fighting the virus. An increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations has caused the Red Cross to distribute a record number of convalescence plasma products in the past month. In fact, our hospital distributions of convalescent plasma increased 250% in November compared to September. To learn more about giving convalescent plasma visit RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

Your good health could be a gift to patients who depend on blood transfusions.

To ensure a great donation experience, make sure you get a good night’s sleep before you give, drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy meal before giving. You should also continue to drink plenty of fluids after your donation. In the time between donations, make sure to eat iron-rich foods such as fish, poultry, spinach and broccoli. If you have questions about your ability to give, you can review all the eligibility requirements on the Red Cross website or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Megan Coffman of Rocky River at the Holiday Blood Drive at Crocker Park, 12/18/20. “I’m not afraid of needles. I give for those who are.”

If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid colds, flu and COVID-19 so far this season, please consider giving blood for patients in need. Good health is a gift – please share it with those who need it most.

A Blood Donor Ambassador’s advice for a great experience when donating blood

Prepare your body with food and extra water. Eat a meal within four hours of donating and avoid caffeinated beverages. 

Prepare for a ‘walk through’ experience. Do the Rapid Pass (the reading and the questions) on the same day. Less waiting time for all donors. Another benefit. You contribute towards more donors saving lives. 

The Donor App is available for smartphones and tablets. Safe guard your read and question/answer time. Do a ‘screen shot’ of your QR (scanning square). Avoids having to redo the Rapid Pass, again. Text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search Red Cross Blood in your app store. The Donor app has your ‘Donor ID card’ and the ‘Start Rapid Pass’. Other helpful and interesting features included in the app. 

On computer with printing or e-mail capability:  redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.

Trouble accessing your Donor app or account? Call Red Cross for IT help (1-800-733-2767). Consider the ‘remember me’ feature for auto-login.

Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross Blood Donor Ambassador and Communications Volunteer

Out on a date and saving lives

By Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross volunteer

December 14, 2020- Richard and Margaret LaDu have been dating throughout their sixty-four years of marriage. Now, they date to donate their own life’s blood to save lives.

Richard began donating blood while in the Army Reserves during the Korean Conflict Era. Margaret started early during her thirty years career as an elementary school teacher. When asked why they donate, this simple response was spoken: “To help others”.

“When we value another person over ourselves, we share life,” added Richard.

Richard and Margaret LaDu

The traditional slump in blood donations, which occurs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, comes as the blood supply already faces challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. Required medical treatments and emergencies don’t pause for the holidays or a widespread coronavirus outbreak. Blood, platelet and plasma donors are urged to give now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients.

Do you need a last minute gift ideas for that person who has everything? Donate blood in honor of a loved one and inform them that their present is the gift of life. Then together you can follow your blood’s journey on the Red Cross Blood Donor App and see the lives you helped.

Download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment and for more information about any of the drives listed here.

May we keep in mind that ‘the giving of ourselves to others’ occurs every day throughout the year.

Be the Lifeline Patients Need This Holiday Season – Give Blood!

Read on for a list of blood drives in Northern Ohio

By Christy Peters, Regional External Communications Manager, American Red Cross

December 9, 2020- Without volunteer blood donors, patients would not have the lifesaving treatments they need. The American Red Cross is urging the community to donate blood and be the lifeline patients need this holiday season.

The traditional slump in blood donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s comes as the blood supply already faces challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. Required medical treatments and emergencies don’t pause for the holidays or a widespread coronavirus outbreak. Blood, platelet and plasma donors are urged to give now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients.

All who come to give Dec. 18-Jan. 4 will receive a Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last. Join us at one of several holiday blood drives happening in northern Ohio and give the gift of life this holiday season

May 29, 2020. Rockville, Maryland. Whole blood donor Gloria Thornton. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

All who come to give Dec. 18-Jan. 4 will receive a Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last. Join us at one of several holiday blood drives happening in northern Ohio and give the gift of life this holiday season:

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020

Holiday Bazaar Blood Drive

Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center

1360 W. Mall Dr., Cleveland, 44114

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 18, 2020

Holiday Blood Drive

Market Square at Crocker Park

239 Market St., Westlake, 44145

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday & Tuesday, Dec. 21 & 22, 2020

Holiday Blood Drive

Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls

1989 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, 44221

Monday: 1 p.m.-7 p.m.

Tuesday: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020

WNWO Holiday Blood Drive

Hilton Garden Inn Perrysburg

6165 Levis Commons, Perrysburg, 43551

7 a.m.-6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020

Mahoning Valley Holiday Blood Drives

Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 5th Ave., Youngstown

Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave., Warren

9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2020

Give From the Heart Blood Drive

Cleveland Marriott East

26300 Harvard Road, Warrensville Heights, 44122

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The Red Cross is testing blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of this effort, plasma from standard blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Donors are required to wear a face covering or mask while at blood drives, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance. We are grateful to our philanthropic partners, including The Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, for supporting our COVID-19 antibody testing program.

Download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment and for more information about any of the drives listed here.

Saving Lives in Ashtabula

By Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross volunteer

November 4, 2000- More than one hundred blood donors turned out to support the 3rd Annual Blood Drive for Elite Employment Center held at Towne Square Mall in Ashtabula, Ohio in October. Elite Employment owner Angela Kendall personally understands and appreciates the value of blood donations, following her own emergency surgery and the four life-saving transfusions she received.

“From that moment on, I knew that donating blood would be something I would advocate for the rest of my life,” she said.

Angela began with a small drive at the Elite Employment Center. She now has one of the largest blood drives in Ashtabula County. The American Red Cross even extended the drive’s hours to accommodate everyone.

Angela Kendall at the Elite Employment blood drive

A large auction, expected to be held in the Mall’s Center Court went virtual this year because of COVID-19 precautions. “We already raised over $9,000 for non-profits in our area,” she said. “I have promised half to Feed Our Vets here in Ashtabula.” In addition, every donor received a commemorative sweatshirt, with the drive motto on the sweatshirt that read, “Be a hero. It’s in your blood.”

Angela Kendall delivers enthusiastic, dedicated family and staff to her blood drives. She also gives personal attention to practically every donor. This year’s sponsors included Huffman Mayer Wealth, Management on Wells Fargo Advisors, Molded Fiber Glass, Bascule Bridge Grille, Applebees, and Furniture Towne Ashtabula. The Elite Office can be reached at 440-998-HIRE. To find the blood drive nearest you, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 800-RED CROSS.

Editor’s note: As community organizations, businesses and schools restrict access to facilities due to COVID-19, Red Cross blood drives at these locations continue to be canceled. The Red Cross needs the ongoing support of blood donors and blood drive hosts to ensure blood products are available for patients when they need it. To learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive, visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

Inspired by American Red Cross founder, local nursing students help meet volunteer need

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

October 30. 2020- During the Civil War, Clara Barton, a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field. Today, inspired by her legacy, nursing students from colleges and universities throughout Northern Ohio are partnering with the Red Cross to meet the urgent need for volunteers in their communities.

Dr. Mariann Harding

Dr. Mariann Harding, professor of nursing at Kent State University,
Tuscarawas Campus, is coordinator for the Academic Service Leadership (ASL) in Northern Ohio. Dr. Harding teaches first year nursing students and current nurses returning to school for their bachelor’s degree. The ASL program provides students opportunities to volunteer in their community while earning their degrees. Approximately 100 students are participating from Kent State University (Kent and Tuscarawas campuses), Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron.

Last year, students taught hands-only CPR in the community. With changes brought about the COVID-19 pandemic, that program is not available. COVID-19 has also caused many older blood drive volunteers to pause their service with the Red Cross. The ASL students have filled a much-needed role as blood drive ambassadors at blood drives, welcoming and screening donors and assisting at registration. According to Dr. Harding, a partnership with the Red Cross seemed like a natural fit. “I believe to have a successful, engaging volunteer experience, matching interest and need is important. Clara Barton, a nurse, was the founder of the Red Cross, and providing care, including nursing care, remains an important part of the Red Cross mission,” said Dr. Harding. “With all the service lines and opportunities for volunteerism, I felt confident that there was a need we could meet.”

Students participating in the program have reported having a great experience. Many have remarked that they have been surprised by how warm blood donors have been, encouraging them in their studies and thanking them for volunteering. Dr. Harding notes that many students have shared with her that they feel the work they are doing is worthwhile and plan to continue to volunteer when they have time off from school.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for Red Cross volunteers remains high. In addition to blood drive ambassadors, individuals are needed to help respond to disasters both locally and across the country, as an unprecedented number of disasters have required an ongoing response from the Red Cross. “Everyone has something to offer the Red Cross – and the Red Cross has an opportunity – and a need for you,” said Dr. Harding. “Just reach out. All you need is a desire to help others.” To learn more or to sign up to volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

How to make this Halloween a safe and memorable one

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

October 28, 2020- Halloween will look a little different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. In order to keep our communities safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is discouraging traditional house-to-house trick or treating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the CDC suggests these low risk activities:

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household (You can roast the pumpkin seeds too!)
  • Host a virtual Halloween costume contest with friends and family
  • Organize an outdoor neighborhood scavenger hunt where children search for Halloween-themed items (while maintaining safe distances)
  • Have a Halloween movie night with the people you live with

Halloween is on a Saturday this year, providing a great opportunity to celebrate during the day. If doing any outdoor activities at night, make sure your area is lit well and clear of any leaves or other debris to keep the area safe.

When dressing up, make sure to wear your cloth mask to protect yourself and others from the spread of the virus. Costume masks do not take the place of a cloth mask.

Decorations are a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. When decorating your home, follow safety tips from the American Red Cross for using candles. Don’t leave candles unattended or in a place where children or pets can knock them over. Keep candles away from decorations, drapes or other household items.

You could also consider helping out others this holiday by donating blood. You can find a Northern Ohio Red Cross blood drive near you here.

Remember, individuals with COVID-19 or who might have been exposed to COVID-19 should not participate in any holiday activities. You can read more about the CDC safety guidelines here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Volunteer finds role that allows her to give back to her community during pandemic

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

October 15, 2020- In the last four months, the Northern Ohio region of the American Red Cross has welcomed Lucy Anne Christopher, a Cleveland native, to our team as a Blood Donor Ambassador. Lucy Anne is no stranger to volunteerism. Before she began serving with the Red Cross, she has humbly taken on other opportunities to give back to the community, including her role with the Ronald McDonald House where she carries out activities for patients and their families. She serves as a “red coat volunteer” at PlayHouse Square Theater and also tutors adults in reading and other subjects. 

Lucy Anne Christopher

When the coronavirus pandemic made its mark on the United States in March 2020, Lucy Anne’s involvement began to change. Her roles at PlayHouse Square and the Ronald McDonald House were both put on hold but Lucy Anne still wanted to be involved and help her community. She was no longer able to tutor her students at the local library, so she began conducting reading exercises over the phone with her students. In June, she took on the role as a Blood Donor Ambassador with the Red Cross.

As a Blood Donor Ambassador, Lucy Anne takes the temperatures of each person who comes in to donate blood, checks them in and out of the computer system, and interacts with donors, ensuring that they have a positive experience. Lucy Anne explained that it’s a very simple role, but it makes a big difference in maintaining the seamless flow of blood donors in and out of the blood drive and provides relief to those drawing blood so that they can focus on their direct tasks rather than needing to also check people in. Lucy Anne reflected that she does not feel at risk of contracting the virus in her role because there is a high level of cleanliness and safety measures in place at the Red Cross blood drives that make her feel comfortable performing her role.

Lucy Anne is a fantastic example of how we all have the capability to make a change, big or small, in the communities where we live. She said, “I volunteer because I think it’s important to give back. There are so many areas that have a need, and you can always find an avenue to serve in that is compatible with your current lifestyle.” The Red Cross collects and distributes approximately 40% of the United States’ blood supply. Our Blood Donor Ambassadors play a big part in creating a positive donation experience for our donors. There is a great need for volunteers as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. If you are interested in becoming a Blood Donor Ambassador in your area, click here to learn more and apply

If you want to meet Lucy Anne and the other wonderful Blood Donor Ambassadors in Northern Ohio, while providing lifesaving blood to those in need, you can schedule your blood donation today. The need for blood never stops, even during this COVID-19 pandemic. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to ensure the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate in the weeks and months ahead by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Blood donations to treat sickle cell disease are needed

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 25, 2020- September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and the need for blood donations to assist the 100,000 Americans with sickle cell disease is especially critical this year. While the disease does not have a cure, blood transfusions are one of the most effective treatments. The American Red Cross requests anyone who can help with a lifesaving blood donation to do so.

Sickle cell disease, which mostly affects those of African and Latino descent, causes red blood cells to be hard and crescent-shaped. Blood has difficulty flowing smoothly and carrying oxygen to the rest of the body, which may lead to severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes.

As Christy Peters, External Communications Manager for Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Biomedical Services, reported in June, blood donations from African Americans are vital in treating sickle cell disease, as blood must be closely matched to reduce the risk of complications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, she noted, “the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half.”

Julie Broze at MetroHealth Medical Center’s Hematology/Oncology Department also mentioned the importance of blood donors in treating sickle cell disease. While MetroHealth has not had its blood supply for sickle cell patients hindered, she said more people donating is vital, as the demographic can be difficult to match. African Americans who do not have the sickle cell trait or disease are especially encouraged to donate, as their blood has a greater chance to have needed antigens and be a better match.

For a personal perspective, I spoke with Demeatrice Nance, whose daughter Makenzie, now 16, has sickle cell disease. Both Demeatrice and Makenzie are effective advocates in educating people about sickle cell, the need for blood donations, perseverance and helping others.

Makenzie has given a number of talks, especially to fellow young people, on sickle cell and the need to donate blood. Demeatrice, a Certified Community Healthcare Worker for the Ohio Sickle Cell and Health Association, has performed vital roles in a number of efforts, including the largest African American blood drive in Ohio.

Their outlooks are inspiring. While they have faced sickle cell disease—and its personal and emotional challenges—for 16 years, they focus on being positive and doing what is needed. This remains true even during the current pandemic. Demeatrice said there is a greater need for blood, but many are currently afraid to give, so she and her daughter are continuing to educate and help.

An avid football fan, Makenzie adapts a coach’s saying that, when you get hit, keep your legs moving as you can still gain yardage. Makenzie says we can learn from that, whether donating blood, facing sickle cell, cancer, COVID-19 or other hardships. Even with the hits we are experiencing, we need to keep going, as we’ll help ourselves and others gain a bit more. So please, consider donating blood.

For another powerful perspective on sickle cell disease, please read Glinda Dames Fincher’s story here.

More information on joining the fight is available here.

Information on donating blood and Coronavirus is available here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Help family, friends and neighbors by becoming a Red Cross Volunteer Transportation Specialist

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

September 21, 2020- We are all living in a new world with daily changes, challenges and a different pace in our professional and personal lives. Everyone has been pushed to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One glaring fact is that millions of people have had their lives transformed into a daily struggle for life’s basic needs of food, shelter and, most importantly, their health. I have learned a deeper appreciation for these basic needs.

Chris Chmura

For years, I have donated blood to the American Red Cross to help others in need, feel like I was giving back and to follow my father’s lead with his years of donations. I wondered how I could increase my support by stepping into a more active role. I signed up to become a volunteer transportation specialist. 

Why this role? 

The Red Cross has many options for you to volunteer your time but the transportation specialist fit into my personal and professional schedule. Plus the position is fun! I enjoy going into various hospitals/labs, traveling throughout the city and working with people who are making a huge difference in millions of lives. My professional role is in the business world. So this volunteer position takes me into the dramatically different health profession. My respect has gone sky-high for the kind people who work around the clock at Red Cross labs and hospitals to process blood for people in need. I am amazed by the journey blood travels from a donor to the person who relies on it to save their life.  

My position started with some online training, driver shadowing and taking the leap to take over a shift. The Red Cross has an incredible network of support to help you succeed in this volunteer role. I hope you decide to sign up for this fulfilling experience. You can meet all types of people, learn about this lifesaving organization, expand your personal growth and feel the satisfaction of helping during this historic time. 

Do you have what it takes?

Are you a dependable, safe and courteous person who can help us make these important deliveries? Volunteer Transportation Specialists deliver lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals, using a Red Cross vehicle. We need you to commit to two to four shifts per month (or more if you can). Typical shifts are about four hours.

You’ll also need to meet these important qualifications:

  • Have a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance
  • Have three years of driving experience and a clean driving record
  • Ability to lift up to 45 pounds

Apply to volunteer at: redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer