CHICAGO (WLS) -- The eighth annual ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive is Jan. 12 and 13, with Univision Chicago, iHeart Media and Clear Channel Outdoor joining as partners again for the event. (* see below for locations and times.) ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott and Host/Reporter Hosea Sanders will be part of the station's live coverage once again this year.
"It is gratifying to team up with the American Red Cross and be part of something that directly saves lives in our community. Viewer support for this drive has grown every year and the fact that we broke records, in the midst of the pandemic, is a remarkable accomplishment. This year promises to be another success story," said John Idler, president and general manager of ABC7 Chicago.
Make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
"The American Red Cross is proud to partner with ABC 7 on the Great Chicago Blood drive - an extraordinary, lifesaving event," said Celena Roldan, CEO of the Illinois Red Cross. "People generously come from all over our city and suburbs to give of themselves. We look forward to seeing many people join ABC 7 and the Red Cross on January 12th and 13th."
This is the eighth year ABC7 Chicago and the American Red Cross will have joined forces for the Great Chicago Blood Drive, setting the bar in 2021 as the largest, most successful single day blood drive in the entire country. The pandemic didn't stop the determination of ABC7 viewers who came out in large numbers to donate. The response to ABC7's live coverage of the drive was so great that that the blood drive will be expanded for the first time to two days in the Chicago area.
There was an incredible turnout Wednesday, and appointments are full for Thursday. Those feeling healthy Thursday should keep their appointments, but others who want to help the blood crisis can consider making an appointment to donate in the days, weeks and months to come.
Over 700 units of blood were collected on Wednesday and nearly 800 were collected Thursday. In total, more than 1,500 units of blood were collected across the two day drive.
Sara Fairbanks was a first time donor, and said she felt good.
Alice Morrissey has been doing it for almost 50 years.
And Tommy Sams said, "It's just the right thing to do."
"My blood is negative, A-, so that's a little bit usual; so, I feel compelled to give for that reason," Susan Barton said.
Many, rolled up their sleeves or volunteered for personal reasons.
"The reason why I'm here is because of my son. He needs the blood. He gets transfusions every four weeks, and he depends on that blood," Tanika Meeks said.
Others just wanted to do something good, as the pandemic takes its toll on the state's blood supply.
"I know that we're in a critical shortage for blood, and today I'm off, and it's for a good cause and the only thing I can do to help is to give the blood," Lucy Jun said.
Blood donations, especially in the winter months, are critical. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, yet the American Red Cross estimates that only 3% of the population actually donates. All blood types are needed and a single blood donation can save more than one life!
WATCH: Joliet man says blood donations saved his life
"Currently, the blood supply is at a dangerously low level, not seen in 10 years," Roldan said. "Recently, blood product distributions to hospitals have been outpacing the number of blood donations coming in. Lifesaving blood can only be donated through the generosity of individuals, and we appreciate the viewers of ABC7 that are feeling healthy coming out to donate to others in need."
Create new beginnings and energy for those in need. Donate blood with the American Red Cross at The ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive.
On Wednesday, Jan. 12, Cheryl Scott, who is also on the board of the Greater Chicago Red Cross, was live at Chicago's Navy Pier from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. encouraging people to give the gift of life by donating blood. Hosea Sanders was live in-studio from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. checking in on the event in Munster, Indiana, and talking to various guests including those whose lives have been saved because blood donation. On Thursday, Jan. 13, Scott will be reporting live from suburban Schaumburg, and Sanders will be at ABC7 covering the blood drive event live.
"Blood is always at a premium during the winter months and the need is even more critical as the pandemic continues," Idler said. "We want to encourage Chicagoans to contribute to this 'essential service,' if they are healthy, while letting them know they can donate safely."
Wednesday, Jan. 12 | 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
600 E Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
The Center for Visual and Performing Arts
1040 Ridge Rd.
Munster, IN 46321
Thursday, Jan. 13 | 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Schaumburg Chicago
1800 East Golf Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173
1025 N. Old McHenry Road
Lake Zurich, IL 60047
8800 W. 159th Street
Orland Park, IL 60462
Appointments are strongly encouraged. Make yours now at RedCrossBlood.org. Sponsor Code: ABC7Chicago. All presenting donors will receive a free ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive t-shirt (while supplies last).
People across the country depend on the generosity of blood donors. Make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Follow ABC7 Chicago on Facebook and on Twitter and share your blood drive photos with us using #ABC7BloodDrive.
A MESSAGE FROM THE RED CROSS:
Despite the variant and the challenges it presents, the Red Cross and other blood collection organizations have to continue to collect blood. Blood collection drives and blood donation are not viewed as events, but are considered an "essential service" and "critical infrastructure" function as determined by the United States Department of Homeland Security and many other federal, state and local authorities. Like a hospital, grocery store, or pharmacy, a blood drive is essential to ensuring the health of the community, and the Red Cross will continue to hold blood drives during this challenging time to help meet patient needs. The Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued statements encouraging blood donation for those who are well. It's important to note that blood drives have the highest standards of safety and infection control.
That is why we have implemented (similar to last year) safety procedures and social distancing where Red Cross employees have always followed thorough safety protocols, including:
Wearing masks and gloves and changing gloves often.
Routinely disinfecting donor-touched areas.
Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
Hand sanitizer available before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
All surfaces and equipment receive enhanced disinfection.
Donation appointment emphasis to help manage the flow of donors at drives.
The nation is in the midst of a dangerously low blood shortage, in fact the American Red Cross will be announcing nationally on 1/11 that this is really a blood donation crisis upon us, so despite the pandemic and the variant, we have to collect blood from those who are feeling healthy and well the day of the drive. There is less than a one-day supply of blood on hand for hospitals and typically there should be a five-day supply.
Appointments are important so that we can plan for donors.
Those who have been diagnosed with COVID are asked to defer from donating blood for 14 days in alignment with FDA.
We are sending an email in advance of the drive next week, to all those who have signed up for appointments outlining the 14-day COVID deferral and asking them to cancel their appointment if they are not feeling well. Cancelling the appointment is important if someone is not feeling well, as it opens up the appointment for someone who is well.
Our blood donation location partners understand that blood is an essential service and that for the health of the community it is important to host blood donors to give.
A donor needs to feel healthy to donate blood (and be 17 years of age or 16 with a parent's permission) and weigh 110 pounds.
Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate blood. If you are feeling healthy, there is no waiting period after vaccination.
ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago is the No. 1 local news source and most-watched television station in Chicago. With top-rated daily newscasts spanning decades and the largest social media presence in the market with more than 2.6 million Facebook followers, ABC7 Eyewitness News provides breaking news, investigative reporting, weather, politics, traffic and sports in the multiplatform space to Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana. Named Best News Operation by the Associated Press for four consecutive years, ABC 7 Eyewitness News produces "Chicago Proud," a series of features that spotlights everyday heroes in and around Chicago. The station also produces the highest-rated New Year's Eve special in Chicago, holiday kickoff special "The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival," syndicated to a national audience, as well as the award-winning program series "Our Chicago," which showcases the city's diversity and highlights contributions in the Black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ+ communities, among others. Every Friday, Windy City Weekend, entertains while giving Chicagoans everything they need to know about what's happening in the city. ABC 7 is the only Chicago station producing and broadcasting parades representing Chicago's rich cultural history. In addition to producing town halls focused on current social issues, the station has a long and proud tradition of broadcasting political candidate debates keeping Chicago's electorate informed. ABC7's outreach efforts include annual partnerships with the Red Cross for life-saving blood drives, one of the biggest one-day drives in the country and, most recently, spearheading an effort to raise more than $1.5 million for area food pantries.
Elita Fielder Adjei
Director, Communications & Publicity, ABC Owned Television Stations