We are well aware of the importance of blood in regard to our salvation. Were it not for Jesus shedding his, we would all be lost. But he did give his blood, and by doing so, he gave us spiritual and eternal life. We can never repay him for this gift, and we certainly can’t duplicate it. At least, not fully. But we can give the gift of our own blood. And while our blood won’t provide eternal life for anyone, it can give a new lease on physical life for some who need it.
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wash., decided it wanted to make a positive difference for some of the people in our community. The challenge was to find some niche that would truly make a difference, that could be carried out with limited resources (financial and otherwise), and that might bring some of our neighbors onto our campus. The solution? A Red Cross blood drive in the fellowship area of our church!
What did it take to make it happen? One dedicated coordinator to communicate with the Red Cross on the date and details, a small committee of two others (one of whom happened to be a nurse) to handle incidental details (like recruiting cookies, making signs and etc.), a few key people in our congregation to promote it (e.g. church website, Facebook page, congregational e-mails, and church sign), and a few volunteers to remove tables and chairs in advance of the drive. And, of course, your congregation needs sufficient space for the Red Cross to set up their gear. (A Red Cross rep will visit your facility in advance to confirm that it will work.)
Other than that, the Red Cross does the heavy lifting. But it’s what they do, so they have the process well refined. Upon approval of the facility, your site, date and time will be posted on the Red Cross website where anyone can sign up to donate. People can look for the drives nearest them by entering their zip code. Whenever anyone enters a zip code close to your church or school, your drive will be listed as a nearby option! Then on the day of the drive, Red Cross will set up their equipment, handle the donor registrations and blood donations, monitor the donors, and after it’s over, remove their equipment and leave.
The goal of the Red Cross is to get 25-35 donors, with a cap at 40. The first time St. Paul’s hosted a blood drive, we had 40 registered donors, with about 30 of them from outside our congregation! There are always some “no shows,” but we had members on standby to fill those gaps. We ended up with 38 donations. Red Cross was thrilled, and so were we. We had just done something significant for our community, and it was so easy to do! And we had heightened the community awareness of our congregation, brought 30 neighbors into our church, and given St. Paul gifts and social media resource information to all of them.
We have our next drive scheduled already and expect this will be a regular activity for our congregation going forward. Perhaps it might be an activity that works well for your church too?
Pastor David Birsching currently serves the members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington.
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