Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to show the correct address for TrueNorth Church at 1060 West Martintown Road.
A North Augusta church is set to partner with an Augusta blood center to help with efforts to introduce new donors.
TrueNorth Church will hold the community blood drive from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday inside of its lobby at 1060 West Martintown Road.
The event will be one of four hosted by the church as part of its outreach ministries and its partnership with Shepeard Community Blood Center in Augusta, which recently saw a decline in its donor base. Shepeard averaged 21,650 donors with 6,000 donating two or more times in 2017 compared to 22,2091 active donors in 2016.
TrueNorth Church has been a blood drive sponsor with Shepeard since 2007 and has hosted 24 church drives resulting in 945 presenting donors and 786 units of blood, Pamela Rascon, director of Community Resources for the Augusta area blood center, said.
In 2016 the church wanted to do more to support the local nonprofit community blood bank and decided to host a drive in May of that year which brought 151 donors who gave 121 units of blood.
“An incredible 30 percent of these donors were first-time donors,” she said.
Rascon said this week’s drive should continue with efforts to introduce new donors and increase blood donations in the area.
“This helps tremendously to invite and reach young people within the community who may not have thought about donating before,” she said. “It’s a new avenue for us to partner with the community and introduce new donors in a comfortable and welcoming environment.”
Along with placing an urgent call for O-negative blood donations the nonprofit imported 900 additional units of blood cells, from its network, to combat shortages in area hospitals last year.
In an interview Kevin Belanger, president and CEO of the Shepeard Community Blood Center, attributed the decline to restrictive donor standards, a lack of interest, specifically among millennials who may not realize the importance of giving blood donations, and an aging population. He said the goal for this year is to collect 1,500 additional units of whole blood and 200 additional apheresis platelets.
The goal for Thursday’s drive at TrueNorth is to receive 123 units of blood, Belanger said.
Michael Fiedler, the outreach and event coordinator for the church, said the partnership acts as an “easy way to give back to the community.”
“It’s tradition for us and there are a lot of local folks who look forward it,” he said. “(Shepeard Community Blood Center) is a local partner for us and we want to do everything we can to help them impact the community.”