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ah blood drive hesseATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ  - Volunteers from the Rev. Joseph J. Donnelly Knights of Columbus collected 55 pints of whole blood at a two day blood drive held at last week at St. Agnes School Hall, accomplishing their goal, turning people away because of insufficient time and space, and making initial plans to hold a second drive in June.

That was the report of Grand Knight Michael F. Burke, Sr. after the Council received a letter of thanks from Gerald Antoine, manager of Donor Recruitment for Vitalant, a blood collection company. In addition to thanking the Council, Antoine also expressed his great pleasure at the entire community, led by Mayor Loretta Gluckstein, who volunteered at the event.  Besides actively helping in the recruitment process and promotion of the blood drive, and the parish permitting use of their facility to hold the event,, Antoine said “true friendships and partnerships are built on trust, honesty, and a commitment to do better today so that everyone advances tomorrow. Your efforts and generosity made sure the good people of Monmouth County and the State continue to have a safe and reliable blood inventory today, throughout the Covid 19 crisis and all year long. You guys are the best!”

Antoine said  red blood cells only last 42 days and plasma has shelf lives of five days, making donations during even a pandemic more necessary than ever. While elective surgery has been curtailed, hospitals still perform emergency services, and blood donors are always needed for a variety of health conditions. With hospitals slowly opening regularly for some elective surgeries, blood needs will continue to increase, he said.

The units taken at St. Agnes last week went to Vitalant’s laboratories in Montvale for testing, labeling and further identification, and were then transported back to their office in Neptune in order to be loser and avoid any delays for use in Monmouth County hospitals.   The former director of the Central Jersey Bank, Antoine went with Vitalant when the former closed and continues to organize drives. He expressed more appreciation for this Bayshore community because of their frequency and generosity in donation, specifically the already scheduled Mark Spatola annual drive whis is set for Aug. 19 in Atlantic highlands. There was an earlier blood drive at St. Agnes, and the anticipated June drive planned by the Knights.

During the two days, when excessive protective measures were in place, including not permitting would be donors to wait in line, keeping distances, and other measures to ensure no spread of an possible diseases, a total of 66 donors registered for the two day event, with 50 whole units collected and ten deferrals  granted. The collected supplies will impact the lives of 165 persons in need of blood, Antoine said. Collection was about even on each of the two days.

Burke, who expressed his own gratitude to all who made arrangements for donations and volunteered to assist, said appointments were spaced nearly half an hour apart to ensure no waiting in closed quarters. He added, “we also owe as much thanks to all those who signed up or wanted to donate but  couldn’t because of the strict adherence to the Covid protocols and because we were limited as to  how many to enter the building or other reasons “. He said the Knights took on the blood drive after hearing the Surgeon General say at one of the Trump Corona Virus press briefings how badly blood was needed and in danger of shortages. “I knew we Knights and our Parish community wanted to do something helpful rather than sit home and worry, we wanted to be active in helping people through this crisis,” Burke said.

Assisting on the two days of the event were Knights John Flynn, Kevin Conroy and Burke, together with Mayor Gluckstein. “Burke added :many other Knights wanted to help but again we have to keep the number of people in attendance to a minimum. However, several Knights are giving blood and platelets as well.”

It was also a busy weekend for the Father Donnelly Council inasmuch as three members of the council also took part in a Charity, Unity Fraternity (CUF)  ceremony online, and several new Knights were part of the nearly  10,000 men who became 3rd degree Knights during another online service.