In advance of Hurricane Irma, Temple Beth Orr in Coral Springs partnered with OneBlood to conduct an emergency blood drive on Sept. 6.
At press time, Irma is a powerful Category 5 hurricane that’s threatening South Florida, and both OneBlood and the synagogue feel that the most critical time for blood donations is before any storm hits in order to sustain the blood supply during and immediately after the event.
At the blood drive, which took place at the synagogue, 14 people attempted to donate. Nine units were donated and five people were ineligible due to low iron.
Melissa Kenny, the blood drive’s chair and co-president of the synagogue’s Sisterhood, was impressed people came out to the blood drive despite the preparations they needed to make for the storm.
“There is warmth, kindness and caring at Temple Beth Orr, unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” she said. “There is a movement to the community, and not just to the Temple Beth Orr community, but to the community at large.”
Initially, the synagogue made arrangements with OneBlood in response to Hurricane Harvey.
“The original intent was to help Texas,” Kenny said. “Given how much flooding and destruction they had, they were unable to do their own emergency drive after the hurricane, so the Southeast United States was helping to support the blood supply for Texas. We were doing this blood drive in response to help Texas, but then with Hurricane Irma coming, the intent of the blood drive needed to shift more to a proactive collection in advance of the storm.”
Kenny said that the synagogue and OneBlood are community partners.
“Temple Beth Orr does three to four blood drives a year at the temple for OneBlood,” she said. “When we were thinking about Hurricane Harvey and the people who had been affected and how we could help, we reached out to our connection at OneBlood and asked if it would help if we did a blood drive.”
Stephen Eckert, a donor service specialist for OneBlood, said the organization has a very good relationship with the synagogue.
“We come out here every two months out of the year so we have a very good relationship with them.”
Eckert said the people who came for the blood drive days before the hurricane was projected to impact South Florida showed commitment.
“It’s a dedication where people see the need of the blood,” Eckert responded.
Although the blood drive shifted from a focus on Harvey to Irma, Eckert said the blood donated is going to wherever it’s needed.
“It’s a need for everybody, but it’s a high demand for Irma, Harvey and any other possible hurricane.”
Eckert said, “Everything that we do is part of our commitment.”
“I actually enjoy collecting blood because I know I’m saving lives,” he said. Just one bag of blood actually saves three lives.”
One of the blood donors, Noah Fineberg, vice president of social action for the synagogue’s youth group, said regarding his donation, “It’s an opportunity for me to give back to at least my own community because this is definitely needed around here in South Florida.”
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but now that there’s a real need. I feel it’s important to do.”
Fineberg, 16, said there are many Jewish values exemplified by donating blood.
“There’s helping thy neighbor and providing for your community as well as tikkun olam – repair the world and tzedekah and providing justice for people who are going to be affected and need this blood. It’s our responsibility to provide for our community.
Visit templebethorr.org, facebook.com/templebethorr or call 954-753-3232 for more information on the synagogue.
Visit oneblood.org for more information on the organization.