Blood drive organizers hope for strong turnout

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Judy and Bob Hellman of University City wanted a chesed project that everyone in the St. Louis community could participate in and benefit from. So they decided on a blood drive because Bob is an anesthesiologist and knows firsthand about the great need and shortage of blood donations – especially in winter months.

“We didn’t want (our project just) to be about giving money,” explained Judy.

So on Sunday, Jan. 18, the St. Louis Jewish Community Blood Drive will be held at Congregation Young Israel in University City. The area blood drive is endorsed and supported by the Jewish Social Action Network (JSAN).

This is the second year the Hellmans have organized the community-wide blood drive. Their very successful first blood drive last year collected an impressive 76 units.”Each unit of blood donated can go to help three people,” Judy said.

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Originally, Judy said she and her husband were thinking about the need for blood for surgeries and emergencies in general. Through their research they also learned of the immense importance of blood for cancer patients.

“Cancer patients can use 10 to 20 units of blood during their treatment,” Judy said. “By giving blood you are giving hope to cancer patients.”

Coincidentally, after choosing the date for the blood drive this year, the couple discovered January is National Blood Donor Month. Blood supplies are traditionally low in the winter months because of vacation schedules, poor weather, holidays and illnesses.

The JSAN was very excited to hear the couple’s proposal for the blood drive and about their success last year. JSAN chair Louise Levine said members were especially impressed with the couple’s efforts to involve the entire community.

“They included students of all ages from the younger ones creating posters to the older students helping with babysitting,” Levine said. “We are happy to support and endorse this community-wide project.”

Levine said information and flyers were sent out to their network of Jewish congregations.

“So few people can give blood now, so if you can, you should,” Levine said. “It is the highest mitzvah: to give and not know who you are helping.”

This year the effort is again striving to involve the community. Babysitting will be provided at the synagogue by area Jewish high school girls. After Shabbos the synagogue will be transformed to prepare for the blood drive.

“Teenagers and adults will help remove chairs and set up beds, tables and other support stations,” Judy said. “On day of drive, many members of the synagogue and other congregations will be volunteering to help with registration and the canteen.”

Rabbi Moshe Shulman is very proud of his congregation’s efforts.

“Giving blood is such an important thing to do,” Shulman said. “It is something we should do on a regular basis, not just once a year. It fits so profoundly with our Jewish values. I encourage the entire St. Louis community, Jewish and non-Jewish, to participate and do whatever we can to save lives.”

The St. Louis Jewish Community Blood Drive takes place on Sunday, January 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Congregation Young Israel, 8101 Delmar Boulevard. Walk-ins are welcome on the day of the Blood Drive but appointments will take priority. To schedule an appointment visit: www.givelife.org and use sponsor code YIJS or call 1-800-GiveLife (800-448-54330).

To volunteer and more information, call Judy or Bob Hellman at: 314-862-8432 or e-mail them at: [email protected]