This week, a reader wondered about blood drives that put Hutchinson on the map.
Q: I heard Hutchinson’s community blood drive is the largest west of the Mississippi. Is that true?
Hutchinson’s community blood drive with the American Red Cross is the fourth largest west of the Mississippi, but we’re the largest in Kansas. According to Jan Hale, external communications manager with the Red Cross, we used to be No. 1 about three or four years ago.
“Donations have declined a little bit, so maybe we can be number one again soon,” Hale said.
Size is measured with both the number of donors and how many volunteers participate. Wichita doesn't outrank Hutch because we host community blood drives, where the Red Cross sets up on-site and volunteers assist in running the event, instead of counting a year-round donation center. The second in Kansas is Salina.
“We’ve always had tremendous support from Hutchinson and Reno County, and none of that has changed,” said Michelle Grimm, American Red Cross district manager for Kansas.
“This is one of very few drives that run over multiple days — in this case, there are three main days — and other days where we bring the Bloodmobile into town. There’s also the number of donors and volunteers,” she said. “We’re looking at 300 to 400 people involved in one week. It’s tremendous.”
Hutchinson has hosted community blood drives like this for over 40 years.
That longevity may be partly due to the community’s culture of giving, Hale and Grimm said. Residents encourage their friends to donate, and then return in eight weeks for the next drive when they’re eligible to donate again.
“That’s something we’d love to see replicated everywhere,” Grimm said.
The next community blood drive in Hutchinson is starting soon.
“We’re heading into November; the holidays. There are times during the year that the Red Cross can bank on fewer donors coming in. People’s schedules become crazy, and we understand that, but regardless of the date on the calendar, once every 2 seconds, someone needs what only a generous soul can donate,” Hale said.
Upcoming donation events in Hutchinson include:
• Friday, Nov 1: noon to 6 p.m. at Advance America, 921 E. 4th Ave., Suite B
• Saturday, Nov. 2: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Leslie's Pool Supplies, 1435 E. 30th Ave.
• Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 4-6: various times at First Presbyterian Church, 201 E. Sherman
Schedule appointments by visiting redcrossblood.org and use sponsor code “Hutchinson,” call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or use the Blood Donor app.
“We really encourage people to make appointments because it helps us plan our drives. If everyone comes out at one time, we won’t be prepared. It’s better if we can see how many we have scheduled so we can bring enough supplies and so on,” Hale said.
Keep those questions coming by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.