DAYTON, Ohio – For some moms and daughters the Black Friday tradition is early shopping followed by an exhausted lunch. Others spend the day supervising tree selection, dusting off ornaments or turning yesterday’s turkey into today’s turkey soup. But for the ladies of a Xenia lineage, Black Friday was the perfect time for a third generation to enter the family sisterhood of blood donors.
Jennifer Sheets made her 57th lifetime donation as she patiently waited for her mother Jane Sheets and her 16-year-old daughter Mariah Kennedy to join her in the donor room. For Jane, who grew up in Celina and started donating as a teen, this would be her 126th donation. If Mariah made it through screening, this would be her first.
“I had the day of and Mariah (a sophomore at Carroll High School) didn’t have school,” Jennifer explained about their Black Friday outing to the downtown Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC). “She’s always planned to do it. She turned 16 in October, and something would always come up.”
Jane was next to begin her donation, playing her part in a milestone in family history. When Mariah joined them their donor beds were nearly side-by-side. “I remember one time when we had six members of our family all donating at the same blood drive in Celina,” said Jane.
“In my family, donating blood was like voting,” Jane recalled. “When you were old enough you just did it. I remember I was so scared! I can remember my father teasing me about how they would feel bad for me if I didn’t make it!”
If Mariah was nervous she didn’t show it. She completed the circle with a very easy first-time blood donation. “Not bad at all!” she said. “You look a lot better than I did!” said her grandmother. The first time I gave I was the same age as you. But you know, after all, it was nothing. I remember saying how the worst part was the finger stick.”
From that first donation forward Jane kept up the family tradition of donating. “I started the blood drive at my church (St. Brigid Parish in Xenia),” she said. “I got it up to three drives a year. That’s the most they’ll do!”
The three walked together to the Donor Café for the final part of this Black Friday outing, a quick snack of juice and cookies. In this family the torch doesn’t really pass from one generation to the next. Everyone shares the responsibility of keeping it burning.
“We had good role models,” said Jane. “My mom and dad both started donating during the Second World War. They set a good example.”