Santa visits McCartyville blood donors


Santa Claus, Jim Goettemoeller, left, with blood donor Holli Saylor, right.

Santa Claus, Jim Goettemoeller, left, with blood donor Holli Saylor, right.


Courtesy photo

MCCARTYVILLE — Christmas week in McCartyville isn’t complete without the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Knights of Columbus holiday blood drive and a visit from Santa. Both were back on schedule Dec. 20, helping boost the blood supply at a time of critical need.

Santa Claus, Jim Goettemoeller, made his last visit in 2020 when the blood drive was under strict pandemic restrictions. Last year, a new Community Blood Center rotation schedule of northern Shelby County blood drives meant temporarily moving the Sacred Heart blood drive to early November.

Tuesday’s blood drive returned to Christmas week and totaled 86 whole blood and platelet donors. It was the CBC’s biggest blood drive of the day, coming during a type O and B negative blood shortage and the challenging holiday period.

“We’ll get it back to where it was,” said Knights of Columbus blood drive coordinator Dave Poeppelman who, with the help of his wife Denise, brought back the tradition of serving hot sloppy joe sandwiches, homemade holiday cookies and chocolate buckeyes for the Donor Café.

“Every donor can save up to three lives,” said Poeppelman. “The more people we can get through that door the more people we can help. It’s needed.”

The Sacred Heart Christmas week blood drive brings together families and friends, young and old, with anticipation for the holiday and reminiscing about past.

“It was my grandmother’s sweater,” Fort Loramie donor Jennifer Henke said about the bright green sweater with candy canes she wore to the blood drive. “She passed in August, she was 93. We were really close.”

“We’re donating together,” said 17-year-old Abbey George, who came with her Anna High School classmates Lucy Ferguson and Stacey Burk after finishing the last day of school before the holiday break. “My mom told me about it and I told them because I wanted them to go with me.”

McCartyville donor Terri Berning came dressed as an elf and sat on Santa’s lap after making her first successful donation. “It’s my first time in four tries,” said Terri. “I came here to save a life. I prayed about it, and guess what? It’s a good thing. I know there’s a shortage, I’m type O-negative, and I know it’s useful.”

Santa, Jim Goettemoeller, said it’s been “43 years ago and three suits later” since he started dressing as St. Nick for holiday gatherings. He made many of his 79 lifetime donations in his Santa suit at the Sacred Heart blood drives.

He was lured away for a few holiday seasons to work as a professional Santa at bustling metro malls in New York, Massachusetts and Washington state. He was determined to be at Tuesday’s blood drive, even though he would not be donating because he is undergoing treatment for cancer.

“It’s a good thing, everything is OK,” said Jim, who was diagnosed in June and is on a chemo medication. “No matter what, it’s for this. I’m a member of the Knights of Columbus. That’s why. It’s a custom every year here.”

Santa Claus, Jim Goettemoeller, left, with blood donor Holli Saylor, right.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/12/web1_Holli-Saylor-with-Santa-96-.jpgSanta Claus, Jim Goettemoeller, left, with blood donor Holli Saylor, right. Courtesy photo