Despite the pandemic, the women of Chapter 1685 have been busy in Beetown, Wisconsin, working to maintain a chapter tradition close to their heart and vital to their community. Chapter 1685 has worked with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center to encourage community members to donate blood for many years.
Hospitals have experienced a shortage of blood donations as individuals have been encouraged to shelter in place. When confronted with unexpected changes due to Coronavirus, Chapter Leader Lauri Schwantes feared the possibility of needing to cancel future blood drives. “We connected with health officials and learned that blood drives are not considered social gatherings, but instead considered a medical necessity.”
After gaining the greenlight to proceed with their local blood drive, Chapter 1685 worked diligently to ensure the safety of all donors, volunteers and nurses. “Because our donors love to visit in the refreshment area, we decided to encourage distancing and shorten lingering by not serving sandwiches,” Lauri states. “Instead we purchased quite a lot of extra prepackaged snacks.”
Though Chapter 1685 took all the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe during the drive, there was still some uncertainty surrounding how well the drive would be received by the public. “We were so nervous that donors who had signed up wouldn’t show up due to safety concerns, but only a few donors cancelled their appointments.”
The chapter was shocked by the overwhelming support they received, “The blood drive went fantastic! We had 54 donors attend, 5 brand new first-time donors, only 6 deferrals, and got 50 units,” Lauri states. “We’re all amazed at how people are stepping up to be of any help to those in need.”
The chapter plans to continue to host blood drives moving forward, as blood donations continue to be in high demand for hospitals throughout the country. “Our next blood drive is scheduled for June 3rd and we have additional blood drives scheduled for July 29th and September 23rd (this one supports the Grant County Cancer Coalition).”
Chapter 1685 is continuing to find unique ways to support local hospitals between blood drives. “Our local hospital is requesting 60 reusable isolation gowns on Facebook,” Lauri states. “I’ve found two different styles on Pinterest and four of us members are going to try making some.”
In addition to gowns, Chapter 1685 has sewn 25 face masks to share with essential workers. “Our plan is to distribute some of the masks to local EMS squads that we’ve already delivered teddy bears to,” Lauri states. “Then, hopefully, we can make more masks for our next blood drive on June 3rd.”
Are you looking to stay as busy as our Beetown members? Find volunteer ideas that you can complete at home on the Royal Neighbors Pinterest page at pinterest.com/royalneighbors.