Dozens -- individually -- donate blood at Chicago Wolves' drive
From a variety of motivations, several dozen people practiced both good health and proper social distancing as they responded Wednesday to the call for blood donations at a drive co-hosted by the Chicago Wolves across the street from Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
The blood donation agency Vitalant was the true on-site organizer and expert at the event held at the Skyline Room for which 160 people had signed up over a six-hour period, though a turnout slightly short of that was anticipated.
Practicing newly established protocols, each arrival's temperature was taken. Donors had to answer a few questions such as whether they were feeling well and had been out of the country within the past four weeks.
Midway through the event, Vitalant-Illinois Marketing Lead Holly Seese said she had yet to learn of anyone having to be turned away for not meeting the health criteria.
Once through the door, waiting donors sat in chairs approximately a hockey stick's length apart.
The event -- as well as regular operations at all established Vitalant centers -- was based on prearranged appointment times for specific numbers of people, while walk-in traffic has been temporarily discontinued, Seese said.
Donated blood is in great demand because of the recent cancellation of nearly 4,000 drives across the country, largely due to the closures of the facilities at which they were to be held. Experts have said that the nation's blood supply is down 30% to 40% from a year ago, and that new donations are always needed because blood has a shelf life of only 42 days.
Seese said Vitalant does have three scheduled drives in the region this weekend, and another one next week, but that is a pittance compared to the usual numbers for a two-week period.
Justin Williams of Woodstock, a first-time donor who described himself as squeamish about needles, admitted that it was the lure of Chicago Wolves swag, including hats, T-shirts and ticket vouchers, that inspired his bravery and selflessness.
"That was kind of what pushed me in the door," he said.
Williams puts in long shifts on the days he works, resulting in his being off half the week. He considers Wolves games a good way to fill that time.
Pleased by the COVID-19 precautions being taken during the drive, he said his anxiety about needles turned out to be solvable just by looking away.
Kristine Binder, who lives on Chicago's Northwest Side, said the event provided the ideal way to fulfill her annual blood donation.
"It's close to my house, I'm a hockey lover, I love the Chicago Wolves and I wanted to donate," she said. "It was awesome. Everyone was so friendly and kind, and it was so clean."
Chicago Wolves Marketing Coordinator Katherine Damisch of Glenview had a snack to raise her blood sugar after she donated. She said she had been signed up to give for months.
"It's an opportunity to show that we're part of the community and care about the people of the Chicago area," she said.