Blood drive on track to set record

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(Host) Hundreds of people have been to Rutland’s Historic Paramount Theater today – not to see a show, but to give blood. As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, Red Cross officials say they’re on track to set a new single day donation record for Northern New England.

(Keck) Steve Costello is usually busy directing public affairs for CVPS – the state’s largest utility. But once a year, Costello helps orchestrate Vermont’s largest blood drive.

(Costello) “It kind of reminds me of Santa’s workshop watching what’s going on here and I imagine for Santa it’s a lot of planning and the same is true here – it’s literally months and months of work.”

(Keck) Seventy five staff members from the Red Cross and nearly one hundred volunteers transformed the stage, lobby and seating area of the Paramount into a mini-clinic.

Costello, a long time blood donor, came up with the idea to host a holiday blood drive at the theater three years ago. With the help of CVPS, the Paramount, local radio stations and other sponsors, Costello says the event has grown tremendously.

(Costello) “Today’s went very well. It’s been very smooth. The first year we did it we had no idea what to expect and we had 50 or 60 people show up at the starting time without appointments and we were an hour behind all day. So we’ve really pushed appointments. That was the big lesson we learned the first year. And we had 535 appointments coming in to today. So that’s really helped spread out the people over the whole event – and giving us room to handle some walk-ins as well.”

(Keck) If all goes well, Costello says they’ll break New Hampshire’s single day record of 589 pints. Chris Frenette, of the American Red Cross, says hosting such a large drive not only ensures an ample supply of blood during the holidays, but helps people get excited about donating blood and may encourage more first time donors.

(Frenette) “The need for blood is greater than ever before. Only five percent of the nation’s population actually donates blood. And when it comes down to this time of year, people get caught up in other activities. And this is when we need blood the most.”

(Keck) As one donor said on her way out – It’s Christmas. What better gift to give.’

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland

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