I get really excited about blood donation. It’s maybe a little weird how excited I get about it. As a matter of fact, if someone didn’t know me better, they might think I sparkle in the sunlight and am allergic to garlic because of how excited I get about it.
Don’t worry. I love garlic and I rarely sparkle. Even in the sunlight. Part of the reason I’m so excited about it is that I was also a blood receiver. It saved my life. (To read that story, click here.) But even before I was a receiver, I was a passionate donor. I think it’s just because it’s such a small thing that can make such a huge difference. It’s a painless hour once every couple of months that can literally mean that someone who was going to die, now lives. How amazing is that?
Because I am so weirdly excited about blood donation, it only makes sense that I would head up a blood drive at our church eventually.
A couple of months ago our church and the Red Cross wanted to do a blood drive. I volunteered to head it up. I have done this a couple of times in the past and it has always gone well. I can usually convince 15 or so of my friends to come in and donate. I usually do this with a lot of arm twisting and threats to call in my friend Guido who loves knee caps and baseball bats.
Or my friends are simply generous people who love to help others.
Yeah, probably more of the second one.
Other than Guido himself, who can’t donate because he comes in contact with a lot of blood in his line of work, I literally have about 20 friends so this is usually about all of the people I can get to come out to our blood drives. This is actually a good number because our church is not huge and is located exactly in the middle of nowhere. It all works pretty well. I’m happy, the church is happy, the Red Cross is happy, and lots of lives get saved.
This is how I assumed things would go at our last blood drive.
This is not how things went at our last blood drive.
A couple of weeks before our last blood drive I put out sign up sheets and started telling people about it. I fully expected the same 15 or so people to sign up.
Nobody signed up.
Okay, not nobody. Four or five amazingly dedicated people signed up. But that was it. And that was a problem.
You see, the Red Cross had given me a goal. A goal is a way of turning a blood drive into something you can win at. I like to win. I REALLY like to win.
This was becoming a problem because my goal was 25 people. 25 people is not four or five people. Four or five people is less than 25 people. Less than 25 people would mean that I would lose. I really REALLY dislike losing.
The day before the blood drive I was starting to panic. All the employees of the red cross were going to come out to my church and witness me losing. Then they would all look at me in disgust and declare publicly that I was not fit to run any more blood drives. I would then have to get the word “FAILURE” tattooed on my forehead and none of my friends would invite me to their parties because who wants the girl with the weird facial tattoo bringing everyone down at their party? No one, that’s who.
Also, we might not save as many lives.
I started to panic because panicking is something I’m actually good at. If I was in charge of the panic drive we would totally meet our goal. I was not in charge of the panic drive. I was in charge of the blood drive and, unlike panicking, there is a limit as to how much bleeding I can do myself.
It turned out that a lot of people I know were doing things like working or being out of town on the exact same day we were having a blood drive. Even Guido was going to be at some sort of knee breaking convention, so he was no help at all.
About twelve hours before the blood drive was supposed to start I said a little prayer.
“God, please make some people show up to the blood drive so I don’t have to be embarrassed and get a facial tattoo. Also, so we can save a few lives.”
The next morning I arrived at the church and started setting things up. The Red Cross people arrived and I apologized in advance for the lack of people and waited for their disgust.
They weren’t disgusted.
“That’s okay!” They said cheerfully “It’s sometimes nice to have a quiet day at work!”
Um, apparently they hadn’t heard that I had a goal and might actually lose here.
We continued setting up.
Then it started to happen.
A half hour before the blood drive was supposed to start, three people showed up to stand in line. Two of those people, I didn’t even know!
It didn’t stop there. About an hour into the drive, a sweaty exhausted Red Cross worker came up to me and said “I thought this was going to be a slow day! What did you do?!”
“I don’t even know” I said “because everyone I invited is out of town or at work! Even Guido, so we know he isn’t beating anyone. Local.”
The Red Cross worker gave me a really weird look and then ran back to help people as I thought Oh wait, I did pray. Maybe that was it…
So many people showed up, most of them strangers, that we ended up running out of bags to put people’s blood in. We actually had to turn people away because apparently when God calls on people who live in the exact middle of nowhere, they respond.
It was awesome.
So awesome that I didn’t even need a facial tattoo.
At the end of the day, the lead Red Cross worker walked up to me and said “Wow. That was amazing! Next time we should definitely double your goal.”
I’m for sure going to have to make sure Guido’s in town.
Oh, and pray.