Blood bank doubles its single-day donations on 9/11 anniversary

Central Valley Blood Bank receives 850 donation at Tulare Rotary 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive, other locations

TULARE – Americans everywhere donated blood in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Lines in some places were as far as the eye could see. It was their way of doing what they could to help people in a crisis. And 20 years later, residents in Tulare County are doing the exact same thing on the anniversary of 9/11.

The Central California Blood Center (CCBC) in partnership with the Tulare Rotary held their 15th Annual 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive at the Tulare Veterans Memorial Building on Saturday. It is easily their largest single day donation drive all year.

On any normal day the CCBC sees 350 to 450 donors across all of their centers. On the anniversary of 9/11 this year they saw 640 at their blood drive in Tulare, and another 200 and their other centers on the same day. For some of the donors passing through, they make a point of going in and giving a pint on that day specifically.

“After doing it for 15 years, we have a lot of people that have come to this, and a lot of people do it as a as a tradition for them at this point, they come out every year on 9/11, and they donate,” CCBC marketing and communications manager Gordon Halstead said.

Each donor received a “memory badge” with a real victim’s name to make the experience more personal and powerful.

Halstead said that the CCBC has managed to whether the storm of keeping hospitals well supplied through the pandemic. But it hasn’t come without a fair share of turbulence. In aggregate the blood centers are meeting their annual demand for donations, but with COVID-19 protocols there are fewer places to meet donors where they are.

“We have good days and bad days, with the pandemic, and all of the school closures and everything, it kind of wiped out about 30 to 40% of our annual collections with not being able to go to high schools and college campuses,” Halstead said.

Still, in light of that, the CCBC had managed to hit 98% of their annual goal for at least the last two years.

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