Soup chefs Shaaron Maron (L) and Eileen Hitzeman

The ladies of the Lutheran Women Missionary League at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairborn have been hosting a President’s Day Community Blood Center (CBC) blood drive for 27 years with hot soup in the Donor Café as their trademark.  On many of those cold February President’s Days the soups would bubble away… waiting for would-be donors unable to make it to the blood drive, discouraged by snow storms.

But on this clear and sunny President’s day (Monday, Feb. 20) the soup was on, and the donors were on time.  CBC Springfield Rep. Judy Blankenship smiled to see her appointment schedule full and walk-ins stopping by as she chatted with LWML President Eileen Hitzeman of Springfield.

Eileen had just donated blood, and she was ready to return to the kitchen to stir her steaming batch of homemade chicken noodle soup.

“We’ve been doing this for 27 years,” said Eileen.  “When we started it we thought we should offer the donors something hot to eat.  I started making homemade chicken soup and I have pretty much been doing it ever since.”

Eileen says there’s no secret to her recipe, except “I just make it from scratch.”  She is quick to point out the quality of all the sandwiches and baked goods league members have provided.  And then there’s the other soup steaming in the church basement kitchen:  the “Loaded Potato” soup by league member Shaaron Maron from Beavercreek.

Why is it called “loaded potato?  “Because it’s loaded like a baked potato,” explains Shaaron.  “There are two cheeses, bacon and green onions in the soup.”  And as we heartily agree, “Everything is better with bacon!”

Just ask donor Steve Woolwine.  He has just finished a bowl of loaded potato soup and is waiting to try the chicken noodle, but is already calling it “excellent.”  “At least that’s what I heard everybody saying about it,” says Steve.  “I didn’t want to pick one over the other so I’ll try them both,” he says diplomatically, but very little arm twisting.

Serving soup to the donors is Shannon Hollingsworth’s daughter Sydney, a fourth-grader at Bethlehem Lutheran School.  Shannon, a league member and Donor Café volunteer, says Sydney and a classmate are earning service hours by volunteering at the blood drive.

Blood drive chairwoman Marilyn Scheu of Fairborn says one of the advantages of the President’s Day traditional date for the blood drive is that students are out of school so they have use of the church basement, and many church volunteers who work at Wright Patterson Air Force Base have the holiday off and can help with the drive.

The volunteers serve a bowl to Susan Saundels of Beavercreek, who with today’s donation reached her 60 LTD milestone.  Across the table is Katherine Kettering from Xenia who just made her 5 LTD milestone.

Katherine pronounces the loaded potato soup “very good.”  When asked how she decided between the potato and chicken noodle she says, “Are you kidding? I love potato soup! It’s always my first choice!”

A sunny President’s Day, donors arriving to give the gift of life, and a choice of two hot soups where you can’t possibly go wrong!  That’s a presidential blood drive that is guaranteed to get a lot of votes.  Warm thanks to all the ladies of the LWML!

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