Although the Catholic War Veterans of Bayonne have been doing blood drives three times a year for a long as anyone can remember, three years ago they teamed up with Jersey City police and fire fighters to hold their September blood drive in conjunction with the 9/11 drive in Jersey City.
The drive is partly a tribute to the emergency response people who risked and sometimes gave their lives during the dramatic events that occurred across the river at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Again this year, for its September blood drive, the veterans joined with the city of Jersey City and the American Red Cross and Suburban Propane as part of the 3rd annual Jersey City Police and Fire 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive.
This is part of a nationwide partnership with 911Day.org , an organization supporting the nation’s largest day of charitable engagement. The drive took place in Palisades and Liberty Rooms of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 2 Exchange Place, Jersey City.
Suburban Propane employees will also volunteer at the blood drive as part of one of the largest national volunteer commitments to Red Cross Blood Services from a corporate partner.
Nearly all the food and gifts to those who gave blood were donated by Suburban Propane.
Organizers say the blood drive was a unique way to commemorate the 9/11 by helping to save lives.
The blood drive came just as Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, which caused a significant loss of donations in that part of the country, as well as a significant need for additional blood donations. Organizers were also very much aware of Hurricane Irma, which was at that time bearing down on the state of Florida.
While officials talked upstairs in the hotel, downtown volunteers greeted donors with a free breakfast or lunch.
John Nicaretta, co-chair of the Bayonne Catholic War Vets blood drive, started giving blood when he served in the U.S. Army in Korean during the Korean War.
In some ways, he has become one of the prominent figures in helping Red Cross collect blood in Hudson County, organizing three events each year through Catholic War Veterans Post 1612.
“I took over as blood drive coordinator in 1997,” he said.
Art Van Horn, his co-coordinator, said this is all about saving lives, and described the Sept. 11 event in Jersey City as “a high blood collection day,” meaning that a significant amount of blood is collected during the year comes during the drive on the anniversary of 9/11.
“A person can donate blood every 56 days. So he has the potential to donate five times a year.” -- Art Van Horn said.
Drives like this can raise in excess of 65 pints, and so save as many as 190 lives.
Normally, for the Bayonne blood drives, BCB Bank covers the cost of breakfast or lunch for those who donate blood. The Jersey City event was sponsored primarily by Suburban Propane.
“A person can donate blood every 56 days. So he has the potential to donate five times a year,” Van Horn said.
The blood drive is designed to promote community and the ability to help save lives, locally and nationally, he said.
In order to run one, an organization must meet certain criteria, such has having a location with room for a number of beds, and a way to provide meals.
The Jersey City event had scores of people giving blood.
Michele Dupey, former spokesperson for Jersey City Public Library and a resident of Bayonne, said she is a frequent blood donor.
“I’ve always given blood,” she said.
She said she was inspired when learned about a child in need back in 1971.
“The boy needed a transfusion. My heart when out to him,” she said. “I’ve been giving blood ever since.”
Michael Chapo, vice president for Biomedical Services at the American Red Cross, said the hurricane that hit Texas effected many lives.
“This horrific event touched many lives,” he said. “I lived in Houston for about three and half years. I’ve seen flooding. But nothing like this.”
He said first responders go through the emotions with the people in a disaster zone such as Texas and in Florida.
“When we get hit with a hurricane or multiple hurricanes as we just did,” he said, “one has to think about the long-lasting impact on blood flow. Not only were the blood collections impacted that were scheduled in that happened in those areas, sometimes you can’t reschedule for months. As for those locations where you were to house them, they have to get rebuilt. Hurricanes can cause thousands of units of blood that are lost.”
But when people and organizations get together to hold blood drives, people show up.
The American Red Cross shelters feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, teaches skills that save lives, provides international humanitarian aid, and supports military members and their families.
The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.