By Susan Ohanian

National headlines tell the story: “Social Distancing Leads to Severe Blood Shortage.” Across the country, thousands of blood drives have been canceled. By mid-March, this meant 86,000 fewer blood donations, truly a national crisis. One cause of the great drop in donations is the fact that many places where blood donations might take place—such as campuses and libraries—are currently shuttered.

The Charlotte Senior Center, a longtime blood donation site, is shuttered, but the notice for April 16 on their online calendar read: “The Senior Center is happy to host the American Red Cross blood drives.”

The Senior Center board of directors decided, “We must open our doors for this life-saving event.” And thanks to community support, the blood drive flourished.

Senior Center Volunteer Coordinator Peggy Sharpe solicited donors through Front Porch Forum and scheduled appointments. Suzanne Ferland conducted a special deep cleaning of the donor area. Dick St. George and the Charlotte Fire and Rescue and Auxiliary carefully managed crowd control, making sure strict social distancing was observed. They also conducted the intake procedure usually performed by a regular roster of Senior Center volunteers: registering donors, inputting information to the Red Cross computer, handing out informative literature to donors, and so on.

Typically, local blood drive donors are rather casual about showing up at their scheduled appointment times. Not on April 16. Donors arrived as scheduled, allowing the process to be carefully and safely orchestrated.

And the really good news is that 34 pints were collected, more than is typical for these Charlotte drives.

Hats off to Charlotte!