This year marks 25 years the Downe Township Community Red Cross Blood Drive has made its home at the Senior Center in Newport. Kary Wilson-Dunkel, chairperson, notes that the drive has had long-term success because of the commitment of local residents.
In 1994, Gus Murphy, Newport, met with the American Red Cross to establish a Blood Drive in Downe Township. His enthusiasm, personality, and determination made the drive a great success and it became an annual township event. Gus, a 60-year resident of Downe Township, now retired and in his 80s, still helps to promote the drive.
Gus has always stressed the importance of donating blood. “You never know who may need blood, a friend, family member, child, or one of our servicemen injured in the line of duty,” he says.
Gus always came up with ideas to find sponsors to donate giveaways such as t-shirts, sport tickets and pizza for each drive.
Gus stresses: “You have to show your appreciation in some way to the donors and volunteers.”
When Gus had health issues, he approached Janice Laws of Dividing Creek to take over the drive and she accepted. Her involvement in the community brought in new donors to the drive and continued its success for many years.
In 2012, Mrs. Laws, or “Nana Laws” as she is referred to, had to stop organizing the drive due to family commitments. She approached Kary Wilson-Dunkel of Newport to continue the community blood drive. Kary agreed and has run the drive ever since.
The Downe Township Seniors have also become an important component in the drive’s success. Annette Perry, Senior Program Committee chairperson, schedules senior volunteers to act as hosts and make donors feel welcome and comfortable.
Renee Harris from Newport, an American Red Cross volunteer, is also a regular who registers donors and has been a supporter for a number of years.
This year, as they do every year, they will be serving donors and guests light refreshments and homemade baked goods. Donors will receive a $5 Amazon gift card and a coupon for a purchase at Dunkin Donuts.
The drive will be held on Wednesday, August 7, from 2 to 7 p.m.at the Downe Township Senior Center, 288 Main Street, Newport, NJ.
Anyone wishing to schedule an appointment may call Kary at 856-297-1699 or go online at redcrossblood.org.