OVER the course of 37 years the Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive has faced numerous challenges but none so daunting as the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. There were discussions between the Singer Family and the Red Cross whether it should go forward or be canceled, but in the final analysis the need for blood is constant — the drive had to go on. Not even a pandemic can stop patients needing life-saving transfusions.

What touches our family year after year is the loyal support of our Greater Manchester community, and once again, even while dealing with COVID-19, they showed up to support this blood drive. Did we get as many donations as we wanted last year? No. But we collected far more than we expected to and for that we are grateful.

This blood drive is personal for our family; my sister-in-law Gail was first diagnosed with leukemia in 1984, she was just 29 years old. She was the beloved wife of my brother, Gary, and mother to Michael and Jessica. She left us more than 38 years ago but honoring her memory is important to us. We believe she would be very happy to know that, over the 37-year history of this drive, more than 36,072 pints of life-saving blood have been collected in her name. It is an appropriate way to honor a woman who put others’ needs above her own.

When you think that each pint helps as many as three patients in need, roughly 108,216 patients have been helped because generous, volunteer donors made time to give. A member of the Singer Family is always at the drive to greet people and thank them for coming out; more than one attendee has shared that they save one donation every year for Gail’s drive.

This year will be our 38th year and we are back to business as usual and invite the people of Manchester once again to join us. Donating blood is one of the most selfless acts; I suspect many individuals who donate regularly have experienced a loved one helped by a blood transfusion and understand the importance of keeping blood available whenever and wherever it is needed.

We will once again be thanking donors with the iconic Gail Singer appreciation gift bag and our famous collectible memorial T-shirt! A few of this year’s gift bag items include free pizza for all donors courtesy of Alley Cat Pizza; a $5 gift card from Dunkin’ and a voucher for a free half peck of apples from Mack’s Apples. Visit gailsingermemorial.org for a full list of items included in this year’s gift bag, valued at more than $200. It’s a small but heartfelt thank you to the thousands who make time to roll up a sleeve with us every year; their gift is the truly important one.

This year is perhaps more important than any other year since the drive began. The Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage, particularly of type-O. This is the blood type in most high demand by hospitals; they strive always to keep a five-day supply on hand and, recently, they have had less than a half-day supply available. We encourage donors of all blood types to give but particularly type O-Negative and type O-Positive; your help is needed.

I’ve heard people say they haven’t donated because they have never been invited to give. Please accept this invitation from the Singer Family to join us on Aug. 17 and 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown Manchester and let’s save some lives together!

I look forward to personally greeting and thanking you at the blood drive.

Stephen Singer lives in Hooksett.

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