August 21, 2019

RUSSIA, Ohio - Carl York stacks plastic cups like poker chips on the counter in St. Remy's Hall, ready to serve juice to donors on Aug. 20 at the St. Remy Catholic Church blood drive. Judging by the mid-afternoon cup count, it was going to be another jackpot day.

"At the beginning of the day I set up stacks of 10 cups," said Carl, who coordinates the St. Remy blood drives with his wife Betty. "So, we've had more than 120 - that's how I know where we're at!"

Carl's cups sent the right signals because the blood drive was brimming with 207 donors, a nice five percent increase over the 2018 fall blood drive. The total included 194 whole blood donors and 13 platelet and plasma donors.

The April and August blood drives at St. Remy rank among the largest blood drives in Shelby County. St. Remy's received the Community Blood Center "Platinum Award" for achieving all collection goals in 2018.

"I always hit the loop," said Gary Bensman from Minster, who made his 174th lifetime donation Tuesday. "I go from St. Michael's, to here, to McCartyville, every eight weeks."

Platelets and plasma donors also frequent the St. Remy blood drives. CBC is expanding platelet and plasma collections at more community blood drives and stepping up recruitment. Ron Eilerman from Fort Loramie has totaled 103 whole blood donations, but on Tuesday he donated plasma for the first time.

"They called me up and wanted to know if I would, and I said I've got the time," said Ron. "I know it helps burn patients."

Richard and Elaine Nishwitz came from Piqua came to donate Tuesday. They have been supporting Shelby County blood drives for decades, and Elaine recalled when they learned first-hand how giving blood can save lives.

"We both started donating at the same time," Elaine said. "It was in September of 1993. My daughter's classmate at Houston High School was in an accident. It happened on a Saturday night. We got a call from another mother. The driver was killed. The boy ended up having his leg amputated.  A bunch of us started donating. He became valedictorian and is now a teacher at Anna High School."

Elaine was soon joined at the Donor Café by a group of young donors from Russia High School. Claire Meyer, a 2019 graduate, came to donate before staring college. "I'm moving in at Bowling Green State University tomorrow," she said. I'm excited!"

Maddie Moorman is 2018 Russia graduate starting her second year at Sinclair College. Tori Heuing, a junior at Russia and Upper Valley Career Center, came to donate with her aunt, Teresa Barhorst.

"I always check with Tori before going to donate," said Teresa.

"I think it's great that they get introduced to donating in high school," said Betty York after taking a break from serving sandwiches in the Café to donate.

"I remember at one blood drive, we had some students whose sports were rained out, so they decided to donate. It really helped us out that day. It impressed me to see young people do that."