Patriotism Begins With a Rolled Up Sleeve
Lower East Siders give till it (almost) hurts
On March 9, 2004, LoHo Realty hosted in conjunction with local businesses its second neighborhood blood drive.
At the East River Co-op community room overlooking the FDR Drive, the local folks trickled in, rolled up their sleeves and gave blood.
The need for blood is dire. According to the New York Blood Center figures, hospitals in the New York/New Jersey area consume some 2200 pints of blood each day, and only 3% of the people living in the same area give blood.
“While working hard to make a living, many forget that there are some incredibly valuable things we can give to others – life – and it doesn't cost us a thing.” said Jacob Goldman, owner of LoHo Realty, the organizer of the blood drive on Grand Street.
The merchants along Grand street were quick to respond to LoHo Realty and Goldman’s call, and many of them joined in a coalition of sorts, each enticing the locals to come give their precious gift of life. The Noah’s Ark restaurant at 399 Grand Street promised “A pint of soup for your pint of blood.” The world renowned Kossar’s Bialys at 367 Grand Street, offered a dozen Bialys in return for a pint. Frank’s Bike Shop at 553 Grand Street handed out free riding gloves (or 10% off any purchase). Special Touch Cleaners, at 559 Grand Street, gave $5.00 off any service. The kosher butcher East Side Glatt at 500 Grand Street also cut $5.00 off your meat purchase in return for your blood donation. Sholom Chai Pizza at 357 Grand Street offered one free 16 oz fountain soda and a slice of pizza for every sleeve roller-upper. M&M Dairy Appetizing at 510 Grand Street laid out a free dozen eggs (to recoup those donated energies). Full City Coffee, the new joint at 409 Grand Street, was giving a free large brewed coffee.
“We are very grateful for this blood drive,” said Dr. Robert Jones, President & CEO of New York Blood Center regarding the first drive in last year December. “If more blood is not collected this month, we face the worst blood shortage in four years.”
The second blood drive was conducted with area hospital Beth Israel Medical Center – its first outside of its hospital.
So friends and neighbors filed into the balloon-decorated community room and rolled up their sleeves. To be fair, many more showed up than were permitted to donate. Before they stuck the needle in your arm, the blood drive officials presented you with a lengthy medical history questionnaire. Certain ailments, as well as time spent living in Europe or any other continent other than North America disqualified you, as did a current bout with the common cold. In the end only about one in three volunteers was allowed the privilege of giving their blood.
At the first blood drive, Jay Engelmayer told us he had a rare blood type, B negative. This is why he gives his blood as often as he can, every four months. He said he felt responsible for his fellow men and women who share his blood type. Normally he would go to the NYU Medical Center on First Avenue near 34th Street. He was glad not to have to schlep up there.
Jay was delighted to find out that the local merchants who put together this drive were planning to make it a regular quarterly event. In case you were curious, the average healthy adult may donate blood as often as every eight weeks, or up to five times a year! Mark Schreiber, a computer programmer with salt and pepper beard and a black yarmulke said he gave blood twice a year, in one of the downtown hospitals or in Brooklyn, where he works. He too would much prefer giving in the neighborhood.
For Dana Da Costa this was her first time giving blood. The process was not entirely problem free, it turned out, and Dana had to lie on her back with her feet up to keep the blood flowing. “It was fun,” she said afterwards, a bit pale in the face. When asked about another time her reaction was somewhat reserved.
Neil Shah told us he gave blood once in 3 years. He came down to the community room having seen the drive poster, with a giant, well, blood-red heart on it. He said having the drive four times a year would absolutely mean he would give more often.
At the second blood drive, LoHo Realty’s own Teresa Falcon gave blood for the first time.
The official literature of the New York Blood Center declares that each donated pint of blood may save as many as five different human beings. Taking this figure into account, our blood drives may end up saving as many as 350 people.
Looking forward to seeing you in June for the next blood drive.
Kosher butchers Moshe Davdowitz (R) and Baruch Weiss (L) observed with professional interest