FORT LORAMIE — The Country Concert is back after a year of COVID cancellations, and that meant the return of more fun at the “Country Fun Blood Drive” held June 15 at St. Michael’s Hall.
The tradition returned of entering all registered donors into a drawing to win a pair of tickets to the July 8 through 10 “Country Concert ’21” music festival. There was free ice cream in the Donor Café in the form of individually wrapped ice cream bars.
True to form, the blood drive topped 106% of collection goal with 237 whole blood registrations, including nine double red cell donations and an additional 10 platelet and five plasma donations.
“We’re all here to make a comeback,” said blood drive coordinator Jane Poeppelman. “But we weathered the storm very well. They were willing to come out and give and just take the precautions.”
It has been a head-spinning time from the COVID summer of 2020 to St. Michael’s today. There was no ticket drawing a year ago because the Country Concert was cancelled, and no open food or volunteers were allowed. Despite the restrictions, the 2020 blood drive totaled nearly 300 donors.
Eight inches of snow fell on the Feb. 16 blood drive, but more than 200 donors braved temperatures in the teens to help save the winter blood supply.
St. Michael’s hosted three blood drives in 2020 with 780 donors, only a 10% decline from 2019, and added COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma collection and plasma-only drives.
For 2021 St. Michael’s expanded to a two-month rotation schedule, and now hosts six community blood drives per year, all sponsored by the Fort Loramie American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the Fort Loramie Community Service Club, St. Michael’s Church and the St. Michael’s Knights of St. John.
“Fort Loramie takes a lot of pride in this,” Poeppelman said.
Co-coordinator Roger Bender voiced his agreement as he handed out snacks in the Donor Café.
“We had 328 donors last year,” he said. “I think people wanted to donate, they wanted come.”
“Everybody was wanting to do something to help,” Fort Loramie donor Pam Frey said.
Donors turned out, despite the COVID social distancing precautions that sometimes kept them apart.
“One of the things we missed the most was the socializing around the canteen,” Poeppelman said.
“Absolutely,” Bender said. “It was usually a social hour.”
The three blood drives per year at St. Michael’s were not just important community events, they were the largest blood drives in Shelby County. Donors will now adjust to the new schedule of six blood drives per year.
“We’ll wait and see how it goes,” Poeppelman said. “June is a normal blood drive for us. We’ll wait and see how an in between one does.”
“Either way is fine with me,” Frey said. “The nice thing is there are more you can get to.”