Home Donors, Volunteers Organizations Donors give blood at Kroc Center – Vacaville Reporter

Donors give blood at Kroc Center – Vacaville Reporter

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The new year is an opportunity to give, and several made appointments at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Suisun City to do just that Thursday.

The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL), in conjunction with the Tri-City NAACP and American Red Cross, held a community blood drive in honor of National Blood Donor Month and a series of events recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Elaine Tokolahi, CVNL’s director of volunteer services, said it was the first-such partnership among the three organizations. She said the idea came from Rhonda Smith, CVNL’s volunteer coordinator for Solano County, who was putting together the program for its MLK Day of Service, where people take on projects that honor the values King was committed to in his life, such as community involvement, equality and creating solutions to local and national issues.

Upon learning the Kroc Center had an available date for a community blood drive, she determined this was a good way to tie into both MLK Day and National Blood Donor Month.

“We thought it was a good idea to get started early in this time of service,” Tokolahi said.

Signups for the blood drive began last month, and appointments were booked solid by the time it was held. Tokolahi said she even tried to sign up to donate blood, but appointments were completely filled.

“I”m volunteering today,” she said.

To adhere to COVID-19 precautions, donors waited outside and had their temperatures taken before entering the building where their blood was drawn. Smith was among those having her blood drawn, but it was far from the first time.

“I’m a true believer in blood donation,” she said.

Smith’s late father had a blood disease, which required a lot of transfusions. Due to blood donations, she said his life was extended.

“It’s just always been really important to me to give back,” she said.

Widy Reyes-Avila a phlebotomist with the American Red Cross works with one of the 40 people who donated blood Thursday during a community blood drive organized by the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership and the Tri-City NAACP at the Kroc Center in Suisun City.(Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter)

Smith’s blood is O positive, which she said is universal for any kind of trauma. Even during a pandemic, she said blood was still needed.

“People are sick,” she said. “Trauma happens, other things are going on besides COVID, and we need to make sure that we are filling our blood banks. They’re low already in capacity, so it’s another good reason to participate.”

Because of COVID-19, the blood drive is the only in-person event CVNL is hosting, although it is doing virtual events such as the monthlong Operation D.R.E.A.M. CVNL is looking to provide nearly 500 gift bags with nutritious snacks and children’s books to tie in with MLK Day. The organization will be partnering with the Friends of the Fairfield Civic Center Library to collect books dealing with topics such as unity, passion, freedom, and justice.

“We’re hoping to put together bags for 125 kids in the county, kids who may not have access to books easily,” she said.

Operation D.R.EA.M. will begin Jan. 18 and run until Feb. 19. More information on the program can be found at Volunteer.cvnl.org/opportunity/a0C5a00000bkvnCEAQ.

Tokolahi said the timing of the blood drive was serendipitous because it happened to fall the day after the chaotic siege at the U.S. Capitol, where a mob stormed the building to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote count. She said Thursday was the aftermath to remind people that good still exists in the world.

“Today gives the participants hope,” she said. “I woke up thinking, I”m so anxious but I get to serve today. Because I get to serve others, I feel better.”

Tokolahi said that was reflected in the happiness of people’s faces as they donated.

“The fact that we can share blood to people who are ill is beautiful and needed,” she said.

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