On Saturday, Dec. 4, hundreds of people donated blood at the same time in nearly 50 locations for the largest one-day blood drive in Florida history. And they donated enough to impact more than 4,500 lives.
It was Camden Miller’s 16th birthday, and he couldn’t think of a better place to be than volunteering at the blood drive at the Orlando Florida Stake center. That’s because he knows how much good that blood will do. When he was younger, he was in a car crash and lost a lot of blood. He needed a blood transfusion to save his life.
“It’s great to help people in need,” said Camden, who is a member of the Winter Park Ward. “I can’t give blood yet because of the blood transfusion, but it was cool knowing I was helping people at the event and that I could help people who needed it.”
The blood donations took place throughout Central Florida, South Florida, Naples and Tampa Bay in stake centers and ward meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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.
“They exceeded our expectations,” said Susan Forbes, senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood.
Forbes said they collected 1,527 units of blood. And since each donation can save up to three lives, that’s 4,581 lives impacted.
“It’s the largest single-day Church drive we have had. It was really an extraordinary event. To be able to collect over 15 hundred units of blood throughout all their different congregations around Florida is nothing short of phenomenal,” Forbes said. “We are very grateful to everyone’s efforts.”
“There were so many people who walked in off the street. I was blown away,” organizer Terrah Denham said. And she noted that every one who signed up for a spot showed up. The organizers posted the event on JustServe.org for a Light the World service initiative to bring together different people in the 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.”
Denham felt that the Lord was in the details of all the organizing, advertising and running of the event.
“When we are serving others, we are serving our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We had an opportunity to bless lives this weekend,” she said. “So many people are praying for blood to be available, and we are answering those prayers.”
Teenagers like Camden staffed the different sites alongside the OneBlood team members. Missionaries also helped pass out shirts with #LightTheWorld, JustServe and OneBlood on them. They also provided Light the World calendars, pass along cards and other promotional materials. Children’s activities, crafts and songs were also available for those waiting.
There were tables with JustServe service projects happening at the same time as the blood drive. Camden showed people at his stake center how to assemble kits for homeless women in the Orlando area.
“We are extraordinarily appreciative of all the efforts that went into this, and everyone who turned out to donate. They made a huge impact, and we look forward to continuing to grow our partnership together as we move forward,” said Forbes.
Denham hopes next year sees more support.
“We know it’s December and people are busy with many different events, but this is an incredible way to ‘Light the World’ and follow the Savior’s example of service,” she said. “Christ gave every drop of blood for us. What is a pint to you? We can give blood and be His hands.”