The day before Valentine’s Day at Harmony Grove United Methodist Church, 27 boxes of “Angel Food” were donated to the Lilburn Co-op.
(For those not in the know, an "Angel Food" box is one that feeds a family of four for a week.)
It was a generous, loving, gift for Valentine's Day, to be sure.
But Harmony Grove had more to give on Monday. The church, located at 50 Harmony Grove Road in Lilburn, held a Valentine's blood drive from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. that brought in a line of donors coming in for various reasons.
The Red Cross took over the church's Pollard Hall Monday afternoon, and by around 3:20 p.m., all of the chairs were filled and the drawing of much-needed blood was in full motion.
According to its website, the Red Cross says that the effects of severe winter weather has caused the lowest blood supply nationally in a decade.
Harmony Grove is doing its part. The church has a busy calendar year-round that benefits the community, including a quarterly blood drive.
An older gentleman, waiting on the folding chairs Monday, said he gave blood regularly while an employee for Bell South. He had a book with him to keep him occupied while waiting his turn. Another man said it has to do with karma, his reason for donating blood.
And, Hector Madrid of Stone Mountain had his own special reason for donating blood right now.
“I’m a new father,” Madrid said. “My son was just born, so when I heard about this going on today, I knew I had to do it.”
He added that it was his first time to give blood, and he was a little nervous, but determined.
“I’m just thankful for everything being fine with my family,” he said. “And now, just maybe, my family might need it, so it makes me want to give back.”
In the waiting area, folks became intimate strangers of sorts. They were all leaning in and talking to one another about the reasons they were there to give blood and what they did for a living. Rows of chairs were filled, then, some emptied out, while people kept walking in and others were rolling up their sleeves. Some were looking over at the juice and cookies that waited for them, a treat for after they were done having their blood drawn.
Rica Kelly of Lilburn will turn 63 on Friday and has been donating blood for about five years now.
“I’m O positive,” she said. “And this is an easy way of sharing that almost everyone can benefit from.”
Joking about it all, while holding up her well-earned T-shirt after donating her blood, Mary Ellen Vaden said that she and her husband were celebrating the anniversary of the day they met — their Valentine’s and anniversary presents to one another was donating blood to the Red Cross.
She said that she’s a type B and he is a type O – and together, they make “BO” – she laughed as she said it.
As an A positive blood type, 21-year-old Courtney Folsom, a student-teacher for first-graders, knows her blood type can be given to many. She is a bubbly, cute young lady who, in her spare time, devotes herself to non-profit projects, and knows she could be helping someone in need by donating her very usable blood.
“My friends asked me what I was doing today,” Folsom said. “I’m single, but I told them that I had a date with the American Red Cross to give blood.”
Her smile showed that she was happy with her choice of dates this year.