ANNA, Ohio – Christmas came early in so many ways for the Knights of Columbus blood drive Tuesday, Dec. 23 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Anna. The brand new Parish Activity Center opened just in time for the blood drive, more than 200 came to give blood, and Santa turned up at the last minute to ho-ho-ho, hand out candy canes, and roll up his red sleeve to donate.
The sparkling $250,000 Parish Activity Center features a full-size gym with rubberized floor, carpeted walls, and specially perforated ceiling batting to absorb all but the loudest of Santa’s belly laughs. But the ribbon cutting isn’t scheduled until Dec. 28 and the work was coming along slower than… Christmas! It seemed that Community Blood Center (CBC) staff would have to once again squeeze donor beds and automated blood machines down the narrow steps to the church basement where the drive has traditionally been held.
“Two weeks ago, we met with Father John Tonkin and it seemed pretty sure we were going to have it in the church basement,” said blood drive coordinator Tom Albers. “There were no lights, no floor, nothing on the walls, still working on the ceiling, no kitchen, no sinks, nothing. But it got done.”
The result was tremendous support for the blood drive with 205 registrations, including 22 first-time donors and 181 units of blood donated for 108 percent of the collection goal.
“I think the KOC decided it would be done on time,” said Mark Kaufman who made his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation in the comfortable surroundings of the new Parish Center. “We asked the question every day for the last two months,” said platelet donor and Sacred Heart deacon Paul Luthman. “I didn’t know it was ready until I pulled in.”
The timing was perfect for the Holdheide family from Fort Loramie. Christmas break from Fort Loramie High School began Tuesday afternoon for siblings Emily and Alan. “We waited for mom and dad to pick us up and they asked if we wanted to go to the blood drive,” said Emily as she and Alan enjoyed homemade sloppy joe’s and ham sandwiches in the Donor Café”. “They’re both over there donating now.” Emily made her second lifetime donation at the blood drive and Alan made his first donation. Their mom Sharon wore a Santa Claus cap while making her 64th lifetime donation and dad Dave made his 122nd. “We just all came together,” he said.
The final drama was the arrival of Santa Claus. Donor Jim Goettmoeller is a busy Santa this time of year, but he always finds time to donate at the Sacred Heart blood drive. With less than hour left in the blood drive, “Santa” had still not arrived. Suddenly he burst through the door in full Santa suit and carrying a red satchel.
Santa made the rounds of the blood drive, distributing candy, wishing a Merry Christmas to donors and CBC staff, and laughing until his face turned red as he struggled to keep his baggy pants from falling down. He finally settled down in a donor bed and made his 43rd lifetime donation. “It’s a long way from the North Pole,” Jim joked about his late arrival. “No matter what, it’s a good feeling for me to do this. The people are so good with me. Just for me personally, this is so good.”