Local 338 Stays Strong at 9/11 Anniversary Blood Drive
September 13, 2012
By Joe Maniscalco
Members of Local 338 manned the New York Blood Center bloodmobile outside the Queens Center Mall on Tuesday, September 11 – just as they have done every year since the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center.
“We had 58 volunteers last year,” said Local 338 Community Service Liaison Lisa Rivera. “That was the highest.”
This year’s event didn’t quite match that level of participation, but union members were still able to tally 45 volunteers who ultimately ended up yielding 33 pints of precious blood. That’s well over the average of 25 that Local 338’s Annual 9/11 Blood Drives usually garner.
“Our union members are part of the community and are always giving back to the community,” Local 338 Communications Director Joe Fontano said.
And 33 pints of blood is not an unsubstantial number considering that a single pint of blood – once it is broken up into its varying components – could mean the difference between life and death for up to five people.
Still, at around 3 p.m. with only eight volunteers – mostly young people – stopping at the corner of Woodhaven and Queens boulevards to give blood, Rivera – who has 21 years with the union, devoting much of that time to coordinating other blood drives, food drives, holiday parties for shelter kids and breast cancer fundraisers – was starting to get a little antsy.
“It always happens this way,” Rivera said. “I get very discouraged but then all of a sudden people start coming in.”
From donor application being filled out, to post-donation cookies being consumed – the entire blood donating process usually takes no more than 30 minutes to complete. Some of those who typically stop and donate blood during Local 338’s Annual 9/11 Blood Drives – in addition to union members who are allowed to leave work early in order to donate blood – are simply out shopping at Queens Center Mall. Anyone who is at least 110 pounds and between the ages of 16 and 75 can donate as long as they are in good health, aren’t on antibiotics and haven’t been tattooed within the last 12 months
of giving blood.
The New York Blood Center operates three bloodmobiles. They are on the road daily throughout the year and can comfortably accommodate up to five donors at a time. All donated blood is kept refrigerated and picked up and transported every three hours during long blood drives.
According to Rivera, donating blood through the bloodmobile is the best way to help those in need.
“It’s easy for people to go in, give blood, and then go on their way,” she said.
New York City’s blood supply is chronically low – but even more so during the warm weather months.
“This is something we take very seriously,” said Fontano.
Local 338 represents more than 18,000 supermarket, dairy and healthcare workers in New York, and is affiliated with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the 1.4 million member United Food and Commercial Workers Union.