We count our blessings this holiday season by counting 12 heroes. During the “12 Days of Christmas Blood Drive” Community Blood Center is honoring 12 “Hometown Heroes” who have defended the region’s blood supply during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CENTERVILLE, Ohio – Community Blood Center celebrates the town of Centerville as a collective Hometown Hero because of the way schools, churches, businesses and the community collectively embraced the urgent need for blood donations.

“Everyone I asked for a favor in Centerville, stepped up to help Community Blood Center,” said account representative Donna Teuscher.  “They made sure we could run our drives for all of 2020. Every drive was full, or we added appointments, and they were big drives.  We could not have made it without these critical blood drives. This is a true city of Hometown Heroes.”

Traditional locations at schools, public buildings and businesses shut down and cancelled blood drives. Churches everywhere were suspending services.  But several Centerville churches took cautious steps to continue hosting their own blood drives and welcome others.

Incarnation Parish stepped in to host the Washington Township Fire Department blood drives.  “Incarnation not only gave us space,” said Donna, “They allowed us to increase the hours. We averaged 100 donors per drive and added platelet and plasma collections.”

Centerville Grace Church allowed CBC to use its new gym to host Epiphany Lutheran Church blood drives. The churches co-hosted blood drives every eight weeks.

Fairhaven Church continued it’s Saturday blood drive schedule and extended the hours. The Saturday, March 28 blood drive totaled 102 donors.

“I think because we know that other blood drives have been cancelled, we decided to do it because we know the urgent need,” said blood drive coordinator Rose Massaquoi. “We don’t want to turn down this blood drive. All church activities are cancelled, all services are online. The only thing we’re doing is the blood drive.”

A cornerstone of the community effort was Centerville High School. “Centerville High let us set up blood drives at the school every month,” said Donna. “They also let us hold the Officer John P. Kalaman drive in April.”

“We really have a service mindset in our community,” said Centerville High Principal John Carroll. “This year with being remote, I had to say more no’s than I wanted to. But with the blood drive we knew we could execute. Our kids are phenomenal in the way they want to give.”

Principal Carroll asked Centerville Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Henderson for approval. “I said we really want to keep the blood drive going, I think it’s important,” said Principal Carroll.  “He said as long as we can keep it safe, let’s do it.”

The Officer John Kalaman Memorial Blood Drive has been a unified show of support for public safety workers ever since the Centerville policeman’s 1998 death in the line of duty. The April 27 blood drive moved from its traditional location at the Centerville Police Department to Centerville High School and was CBC’s only mobile blood drive of the day. It totaled 101 donors and 87 donations.

“We absolutely wanted to keep the Kalaman tradition of the blood drive alive, and for the Kalman family,” said Principal Carroll. “They give scholarships every year, they are a great family and we wanted to support them. They reached out when they heard we were going to host it, and they were so excited.”

Because of restrictions, it was the first time John and Paula Kalaman could not attend.

“It’s tough to stay away,” said Paula Kalaman. “If we had gone, we would have wanted to stay the whole day.  It was the best all around, but it was hard. There will be other years.”

 “It just goes to prove that no matter what the times are, people in our community are caring,” said Paula. “And what better birthday gift than giving someone the gift of life. We got a ton of those gift today.”

CBC is encouraging donations during the “12 Days of Christmas” blood drive now through Saturday, Dec. 26 at the Dayton CBC.  Everyone who registers to donate at the Dayton CBC will receive a Kroger $10 gift card in addition to “Holiday Hero” face mask and “Hometown Hero” t-shirt.  Donors must make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or by calling (937) 461-3220.

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