Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hitting a Home Run with the Red Cross

An Afternoon Blood Drive with the Nationals

By Riley Hope, Communication Intern

Before the 4th of July fireworks and the Saturday win against the Chicago Cubs, three Washington Nationals players came to support donors and friends at a local blood drive last week. Gio Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, pitchers for the team, and Jose Lobaton, a catcher, supported the Red Cross by attending a blood drive at the Alexandria office of the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region on July 3rd. 

I was able to meet the players last Thursday for about two hours as they made a "short stop" at the office when the blood drive started. Gio, Rafael, and Jose were welcomed by the staff at the Alexandria building as well as by Linda Voss, the CEO for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. Their energy for the game translated well with the donors and volunteers as they talked about the Nationals, baseball, and life in the District. The players proved to be real hits, and soon would-be donors were chatting with the teammates and snapping a few photos with them.

The players' appearances came as quite a surprise for the donors, many who came expecting a normal donation day. One pair of donors just so happened to walk in wearing National’s jerseys but didn't recognize the players until they overheard a conversation about baseball.  Another donor was quite excited when she saw the players because she came prepared - she always carries a baseball in her bag since you never know who you're going to meet in DC! 

The blood drive proved to be a "home run" with the community, as Alexandria Mayor William Euille stopped by the office to support his constituents, whether they were donating blood or helping to collect it. He walked around with the players to  meet donors, thanking them for their time and for their donations, snapping a few photos along the way.

For this intern, the blood drive really hit home because it showed how the entire community, from local celebrities and politicians to volunteers and donors, could coalesce around a cause and work together to change lives.  And while meeting players during donations can be hit or miss, taking the time to donate or volunteer with your local Red Cross, or any other charity, can prove to be a reward in itself. 

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