SPEVAK: Got blood? Do your part and donate

john.spevak@gmail.comMarch 14, 2014 

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“What do you want, blood?”

“Yes,” is the reply. “We need it – badly. On March 20 we will be here to collect it.”

“We” in this case refers to the people who work for the Central California Blood Center. They will be at the Los Banos Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1826 Center St., Thursday from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

When I was a kid, I was often asked, “What do you want, blood?” Usually it was asked by another kid who thought I was asking too much of him.

Nowadays I don’t hear that expression anymore. But it does fit the current critical need for blood. And the blood center isn’t asking for that much, really, from each person – just a pint.

This month the need is more urgent than usual. The last time a crew from the blood center came to the Los Banos LDS church, two months ago, they left with only 35 pints of blood. A typical Los Banos donation day yields 60 to 70 pints or more.

Helen Gallichio, a Los Banos volunteer for the blood center for many years, was disappointed at the low turnout but not surprised. “January is a tough month for blood donations,” she said. “The weather’s chilly, and many people have colds or the flu and therefore can’t donate.”

But as the donations decrease in the winter, the need for blood increases. “We’re hoping for a big turnout,” Gallichio said, “to help meet this need.”

Gallichio pointed out there are several people in Los Banos who have a particular need for blood. Donors can designate, if they wish, a specific person into whose account the blood donation is made.

Gallichio is also encouraging people who have never given blood to donate. “It’s a simple and painless procedure,” she said. “The people who draw the blood make sure donors are relaxed and comfortable during the process.

“We also have treats,” she added. “When the donation is completed, we ask donors to come by the snack table and have a beverage and cookie. Boys and girls from the Our Lady of Fatima 4-H group serve a beverage and snack to each donor. It’s a nice way to conclude the process.”

Donors also have a chance to win a free dinner at a local restaurant, thanks to the generosity of local service clubs. Four dinners are given away in drawings between 3 and 6:30 p.m. with certificates purchased by different organizations in Los Banos.

“We have been blessed,” Gallichio said, “to have the support not only of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also of many local service clubs, including the Young Ladies Institute, Kiwanis, Elks, Soroptimists, Rotary, the Knights of Columbus and the Native Sons of the Golden West.”

Gallichio is one of many people in Los Banos who help the blood center on donation day, including the people who check people in, like Susan and Claire, and people who vacuum and put away tables, like Frank and Roger. “It’s a team effort, for a good cause,” Gallichio said.

Los Banosans are fortunate to be able to donate blood in their community, thanks to Central California Blood Center, which has a long history in the Central Valley.

It was started in 1949 as the Valley Blood Bank by the Fresno County Medical Society and then became the community shared, not-for-profit Central California Blood Bank in 1954. Its name changed to the Central California Blood Center in 1995.

CCBB and CCBC mobile crews have come to Los Banos for more than four decades, enabling Los Banosans to give blood in their home town. Persons interested in knowing more about the CCBC can check out its informative web site, with a catchy name, at www.donateblood.org.

On another note: Congratulations to Carmella and Danny Lewis, who celebrated their 65th anniversary last month. They are a remarkable couple, caring parents and grandparents who are also active in their parish and community.

One of the reasons they have had such a successful marriage is laughter. They both have a lighthearted sense of humor and share smiles and good cheer with each other, their family and their many friends.

Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for over 30 years, are encouraged and can be sent to john.spevak@gmail.com.

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