By LINDA M. LINONIS
At regularly scheduled blood drives, the average total donation ranges between 30 and 44 pints.
At a special blood drive Friday to honor the Rev. Stephen Popovich, the goal is 70 pints, said Carol Massey. She and her husband, Dennis, coordinate blood drives at 11 churches in New Middletown and Springfield Township.
The blood drive from noon to 6 p.m. in fellowship hall of the Free Methodist Church, 9900 Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road, will recognize the pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church. He was injured in a car accident Nov. 13, 2013, and remains in rehabilitation.
“Father Popovich was a regular donor,” Carol Massey said. “I remember he would come in and roll up his sleeve. Because of his participation in blood drives, we’re honoring him.”
She said the event will feature a cake with his photo and cards to sign that will be sent to him. Posters promoting this special effort have been circulated at churches and businesses in New Middletown and Springfield Township.
The Rev. Nicholas Shori, director of the office of evangelization in the Diocese of Youngstown, reported that Father Popovich’s “spirits are good.” He said Father Popovich’s upper-body strength is improving as are his motor skills.
“He’s ministering to people in rehab who have similar injuries,” Father Shori said.
Since the night of the priest’s accident, a royal blue votive candle has burned in the sanctuary at St. Paul. Sisters in Grace went on with a Bible study because they knew that’s what their pastor would have wanted. A member of the group lit the votive candle to call attention to praying for Father Popovich.
In addition to the blue candle, village and township residents have placed blue vigil lights in their windows and put blue bulbs in porch lights to show support for the priest. Blue ribbons also have been tied around trees and fences.
“Both places have shown support for Father Popovich with blue lights and ribbons,” Carol Massey said.
Trisha Guth-Bronson is donor-recruitment representative for the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. She said Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties are among the 19 counties in the region. Blood is distributed to 57 hospitals in the region.
“The Red Cross has about 23 blood drives daily and needs about 800 pints collected daily to supply the hospitals,” Guth-Bronson said.
Blood is processed at the Red Cross center in Cleveland then distributed to hospitals. “There’s a demand for all types,” Guth-Bronson said.
She said donors may be 16 years old with parental consent; there is no upper age limit. “Donors should be in good health,” Guth-Bronson said.
“We’re fortunate in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to have a very loyal donor base and support of the churches, she said, noting many blood drives take place in church halls.
Guth-Bronson said some blood drives are conducted in honor or memory of someone. A recent drive at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Boardman was in memory of a church member who was a longtime blood donor.