Donors will #LightTheWorld in largest single-event blood drive in Florida history

Across Florida this Saturday, Dec. 4, hundreds of people will donate blood at the same time in nearly 50 locations for the largest one-day blood drive in state history.

The blood donations will take place throughout Central Florida, South Florida, Naples and Tampa Bay in stake centers and ward meetinghouses belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Missionaries and youth are set to volunteer and staff the different sites. 

The Church partnered with OneBlood, which is a not-for-profit blood center that provides blood to more than 250 hospitals and their patients throughout Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

“Hosting nearly 50 blood drives in one day across many of their congregations in Florida is incredible,” said Susan Forbes, senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood. “Their efforts are to be commended, and we are excited to partner with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on this year’s Light the World initiative. They are literally shining a state-wide light on the ongoing need for blood donations.” 

The organizers listed their efforts on JustServe.org for a Light the World service initiative to bring together Church members and their community. 

“The Light the World blood drives are unique opportunities to stand united and do something extraordinarily impactful and meaningful for the community,” said St. Cloud Florida Stake President Ryan Munns. “There is a universal need for blood. Our church is always looking for ways to provide service to the community and donating blood is a simple and meaningful way to help.”

Organizer Terrah Denham said this year’s enormous project grew from their Light the World blood drive last year.  In December 2020, Denham helped organize donations for OneBlood at the Orlando Stake Center. She said she told OneBlood she could get at least 100 donors, and they did not believe it could be done. But 117 donors showed up, including 20 strangers to the Church who had never been inside the building. Denham said the drive was such a success, she felt it could be replicated this year. 

The next thing she knew, more stakes around Florida were signing on to participate in the 2021 blood drive. It grew as word spread through stakes in the area, social media and JustServe. Then OneBlood created a campaign with a commercial, flyers and mailers. 

“This event has now grown to be the first of its kind. We are now the largest donor organization for a single-day event in all of OneBlood’s history,” said Denham.

Denham said hosting the blood drive inside Church buildings also allows them to showcase Light the World and JustServe.org through promotional materials in the waiting areas. She said many Central Florida locations are having JustServe activities or projects simultaneously with the blood drive.