RUSSIA, Ohio – April is designated “Ohio Agriculture Month” because some 74,000 farms across the state are about to get spring planting underway. It’s true on the nearly 1,000 farms in Shelby County, along with another rite of spring: donating blood at the April St. Remy’s Hall Blood Drive while you still have the time.
St. Remy Catholic Church in Russia is one of the bedrock sponsors in a rotation of large Community Blood Center blood drives across the county that includes St. Michael’s Hall in Ft. Loramie and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Anna. The St. Remy’s blood drives are in April and August, and in 2015 they registered 347 donors for 323 donations and 100 percent of the collection goal.
The Tuesday, April 19 blood drive was a gorgeous spring day for a blood drive, and the result was a sunny 15 percent increase over the April 2015 turnout. The blood drive gathered 180 whole blood registrations and 169 donations, plus a dozen platelet and plasma donations, for 99 percent of the collection goal.
“This is a good time of year for the farming community,” said Carl York, who coordinates the St. Remy’s Hall blood drive with his wife Betty. Carl made his 71st lifetime donation Tuesday. “Everybody wants to be here. I can’t think of a better thing to do for charity. It helps everybody – all races, creeds, colors. It’s the most satisfying thing I can do to help other people.”
Carl is a member of the St. Remy’s Knight of Columbus, which serves as blood drive sponsor. Their support pays for the barbecue pork and chicken sandwiches in the Donor Café, while Betty and “cookie lady” Kathy Muhlenkamp organize about 40 volunteers who bake homemade cookies.
The St. Remy’s blood drive gets traditional support from the softball team at Russia High School. The players gather at the home of assistant coach Judy Goubeaux and bake about 40 dozen cookies for the donors. “It’s a community effort,” said Kathy. “The team learns about working together and doing something for the community.”
Russia High juniors Chloe Sherman and Kate Cook came to the blood drive after school. Kate has four lifetime donations while Chloe made her first donation. “Last year I was too young, and at the last blood drive I was playing volleyball,” she said. “But this time I scheduled myself off from work because I knew about it in advance.”
“I go to wherever the machines are, Fort Loramie, Sidney, McCartyville,” said Paul Grisez after giving platelets for his 94th lifetime donation. Shelby County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Guillozet also makes the rounds to blood drive with apheresis machines. He made his 187th lifetime donation Tuesday.
Tom Albers, coordinator of the Sacred Heart blood drive, donated double red blood cells Tuesday for his 184th lifetime donation. “I remember I was at a blood drive and there was a long line,” he said. “Kathy (CBC Shelby County account representative Kathy Pleiman) said if I donated double reds I could go to the head of the line. I’ve been doing it ever since!”
Chard Haworth from Fort Loramie made his 61st lifetime donation. “I try to donate every two months,” he said. “I knew it would be busy today, because it’s before the farming season!”