“The Colville community is our number one community blood drive,” stated Erin Meenach, recruitment coordinator for the Inland Northwest Blood Center, at the blood drive on Jan. 8.
Meenach said that of all the community drives INBC orchestrates, the Colville community drive is the best for INBC as far as donor numbers.
The blood drives are held every other month, second Tuesday of the odd months.
“Colville, from the high school, to the Wal-mart employees’ blood drives, to the community blood drives…they all have been very good to us. We have very loyal donors in Colville,” Meenach attested.
But the blood drive had fewer numbers than usual on Tuesday. Colville usually has 130 donors per blood drive, but 100 donors showed up, while only 85 were able to donate. (A donor may be unable to donate for various reasons including if they have been recently sick.)
Jocelyn Beaumont, who works as the Colville coordinator along with her husband, was disappointed in the donor numbers.
“It did not go as well as blood drives in the past,” she said. “We didn't get the people because of the [snowy] weather, and it is flu season now.”
One of Colville's biggest blood drives on record was the September drive that was hosted in honor of Americans who lost their lives on 9-11. More than 150 donors registered, and 133 donors gave blood.
But Jaime Estrada, INBC development and compliance manager, said he thought consistency rather than quantity determine if a blood drive is successful or not.
“If we have a drive where every time we show up the donors are coming, that is the best drive,” Estrada said. “We [may] have a big promotional drive where we get a lot of blood, but it [the blood] all expires, so we need donors that are committed.”
This faithfulness in a donor is especially important for INBC, since they need 200 donors a day to supply blood for the area because they are the only blood bank in Northeast Washington and Idaho.
The Colville drives get high marks for faithfulness of the donor population.
According to records, Colville has consistent donors at each blood drive. Beaumont said that some Colville donors especially stood out because of their faithfulness in returning for each blood drive.
“We have a unique community in that we have the same 60 to 70 donors that are consistent. They are very faithful,” she said.
While at the blood drive on Tuesday, Beaumont noticed a donor who had given blood at the previous drive on the double-red machine (a donor can safely give two units of blood during one donation since he receives plasma and platelets at the same time.) This man couldn't give blood on Tuesday because he was still recovering from donating blood at the previous drive, but he showed up just to visit with friends. She explained that this faithfulness was the prevailing attitude of many faithful Colville donors.
But the donors are not the only faithful participants in the local drives. The Colville blood drives are unique because volunteers bring food and beverages, even though INBC also brings free snacks for the donors. canteen.
“We provide some sort of snacks, basically salt and sugar, and at drives like Colville, people get together and cook and bring stuff, like baked goods,” Estrada said. “We don't have that at every drive, but this is one of the unique drives where we do have that. It becomes a community event.”
Not only will donors enjoy the social atmosphere and enjoy the food, INBC also offers a point system as another donating incentive. Each donor receives 100 points for an appointment (the appointment can be made online), and 100 points for showing up to the event. When the donor comes to the drive, they can cash in their points for a variety of awards like DVDs, CDs, or movie tickets.
But the biggest benefit that a donor gains is the lives that are saved through their selfless donations. Each unit of blood donated saves three lives.
Beaumont encourages more donors to participate in the drive, even if a needle may make them squirm.
“I know that there are people that are able to donate but are afraid to donate. But it's not something to fear because you are able to save three other lives by donating,” explained Beaumont.