Now more than ever, the Red Cross needs our help. Superstorm Sandy has created a huge shortage of lifesaving blood due to the cancelation of nearly 400 blood drives in states along the East Coast. With many cities still under water and without power, a shortage of more than 12,000 units is only likely to increase.
"Because of the power outages and flooding, affected buildings are not going to be able to host these drives, so we are asking people in non-affected areas if they can come and give now and support this need," said Christy Sabaka, communications manager for the American Red Cross Northern Ohio chapter.
St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Perkin, Ill., has hosted a Red Cross blood drive every third Thursday of the month for more than 20 years. Their next drive is scheduled for Nov. 15, and while they have at least 100 donors participate each month, Pastor Dwight Borden expects there to be even more this time because of the sudden shortage. Although the congregation hasn't yet had time to figure out all of the details, they plan to promote this particular drive with more urgency within the congregation and in the church bulletin.
"We have a responsibility to help one another," Borden said, adding that his congregation also plans to donate financially to Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. "It's just part of who we are as a church and simply what it means to be a Christian."
While churches can help by contacting their local Red Cross chapter to host blood drives, what the organization really needs right now is blood donors to come out to currently scheduled drives. For example, in Northeast Ohio, there are 28 blood drives that happen daily throughout the year. Churches can do their part to advertise these events and encourage their congregations and communities to donate. According to the Red Cross website, all blood types are needed to ensure an adequate blood supply is available during a disaster, especially types O positive, O negative, A negative or B negative blood.
To find blood drives in your area, visit RedCrossBlood.org and search via zip code.
"Churches can search for blood drives in their area and list them in their bulletins and announce them during Sunday services," Sabaka said. "Obviously this is something that will be needed not just this week or next week but in the coming weeks as well."