ANNA, Ohio – Donors followed a path of sparkling salt crystals across the frozen parking lot to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Activity Center for the annual Knights of Columbus Blood Drive Tuesday, Dec. 20.  In the final days until Christmas, nothing brings the spirit of the season to McCartyville like the act of giving.

They were welcomed inside by Christmas music, Community Blood Center staff in holiday garb, and a feast of hot sandwiches and homemade cookies in the Donor Café, served by volunteers.

“It’s a nice hall here,” said Ron Eiting, after making his 115th lifetime blood donation.  The Activity Center was completed just in time to host the 2014 blood drive.  For blood drive coordinator Tom Albers it meant no longer moving donors, food, and equipment down the stairs to the church basement.

The holiday blood drive brings together friends, old and new, and family.  Julie Kettler came with her 19-year-old daughter Sara, a nursing student at Wright State, and sister-in-law Sharon Lenhart.

The Sacred Heart blood drive includes apheresis donations and Bill Meinerding from Lakeview gave platelets for his 259th lifetime donation.  “I started out when they did this in the church basement and I was giving whole blood,” he said. “That’s been a long time ago.”

The Donor Café was not the only feast of the day for Shelby County Commissioners Bob Guillozet and Tony Bornhorst.  “All the county offices in the annex building had a carry-in Christmas lunch,” Bob said. “Tony made a pork loin, Julie (Ehemann) made turkey and I took care of the drinks.” Bob made his 191st lifetime donation and Tony his 102nd.

The Sacred Heart blood drive is always an opportunity to celebrate milestones with fellow donors and give thanks for the year’s blessings.

Christopher Wehner proudly pulled up his pant leg to reveal the large blood drop cartoon character tattoo on his ankle.  He had it done to celebrate his 100th donation.  The character is wearing tennis shoes with “100 LTD” on one foot and Christopher’s blood type “O+” on the other.

“They showed me what it would look like, only they had dress shoes on the guy,” he said “I told them I wanted tennis shoes. When I get to 200, I’m going to get another blood drop.”

Sidney donor Doug Barhorst used his donation to celebrate his retirement. He started out as a history teacher and Russia’s first school principal then went into business.  He built a successful air compressor company serving all the major area manufacturing plants, and has gradually passed it on to his son Kurt.

“December 31st, I’m fully retired,” he said. “We’ll head to Florida for four months and come back to watch the grandkids play baseball in the summer.”

Amanda Seigle is grateful her husband Jim is surviving advanced prostate cancer thanks to radiation treatments. “He said, ‘I wish I had donated more’ before now because he isn’t able to donate.  I said, ‘I have to do more.’”

Amanda learned from a Sidney Daily News story that CBC is now recruiting women to donate platelets.  She had her platelet count tested with her whole blood donation Tuesday. “I’ve always wanted to give back,” she said. “It was a calling.”

Kathie Kelley McDermitt gave thanks with her 55th lifetime donation.  Just last February she was in a triple-rollover accident that crumpled her SUV and fractured six vertebrae in her neck.  She has a metal plate in her neck in place of two discs, but she was able to leave the hospital in a couple of days.

“You don’t know why you made it and others might not.” she said. “I give back to the community as much as I can. If I can’t do anything else I can give blood – it’s a reward.”

She shared a hug with first-time donor Jodie Blindauer in the Donor Café.

“It’s about getting a second chance that many people don’t get,” said Kathie.  “It can be gone at any moment. You take things for granted. Life is short, but you can make a difference.  I could have been that person.  I’ll give blood as long as I can.”


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