By Wilson Conde CentralJersey.com
The Somerset Medical Center’s Blood Donation Program will provide community members in and around the Somerville area with two opportunities to serve the community during this holiday season.
The medical center will operate a Giving Tuesday blood drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the De Sapio building on 92 E. Main St. in Somerville, said Nicole Greco, the medical center’s blood donor recruiter.
The Giving Tuesday blood drive is a way to provide an alternative to the consumerism that often prevails during the rest of the holiday season, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Raritan Township resident added. “This is a way to share without spending,” she said.
Those who are unable to give blood for health reasons can still contribute in the spirit of Giving Tuesday throughout the holiday season by donating to the Somerset Medical Center Foundation in honor of someone they know, said Kathleen Roberts, the public relations and marketing director for the medical center.
The foundation will then acknowledge the donation through an ornament placed on the medical center’s Giving Tree, and will send a letter to either the donation’s honoree or that honoree’s relative if the honoree is deceased, Roberts said.
“We hope that people will take time away from all of the hustle and bustle of shopping on this holiday season and think of how they can give back to the community, whether by donating blood, and if they can’t do that, then help support the Somerset Medical Center through the Giving Tree,” Roberts said.
The Somerset Medical Center’s Blood Donor Program also will host blood drives outside of the hospital from now on to make it easier for local resident to donate blood, Greco said.
“We’re trying to make blood donations for convenient for people in our area,” Greco said.
Local residents are welcoming this initiative, which has resulted in more people have coming out to donate, Greco said.
“The response has been strong,” she said. “That has been very gratifying.”
Somerset Medical Center also is conducting a memorial blood drive throughout the month of December at the Somerville hospital itself to honor Thomas Gorman, a regular blood donor at the hospital who died during the 9/11 attacks.
Theresa Gorman, of Franklin Township, said her son Thomas donated blood at Somerset Medical Center on September 10, 2001, the day before he died in the 9/11 attacks while leading rescue efforts as a first responder.
Later that week, Somerset Medical Center informed Theresa Gorman that the blood her son Thomas donated went to help a local patient, she said. This inspired her to donate blood to honor her son’s memory and heroism that December because that was his birth month, and then organize the annual blood drive at the medical center each December since 2002.
“He was a hero, and anyone who donates blood is also a hero,” Theresa Gorman said. “Giving blood is a way to be a hero by helping someone else.”
At the time of the 9/11 attacks, Thomas Gorman was a resident of Middlesex Borough who worked at the PATH Station in Jersey City as a Port Authority police officer. He was called to duty at the World Trade Center after the planes hit the towers, Theresa Gorman said.
Theresa Gorman said she found Somerset Medical Center’s ceremony honoring Thomas to be heartwarming. The medical center dedicated a glass-encased steel cross and a plaque for him.
“The Port Authority was there. His friends were there. It was just nice,” Theresa Gorman said. “The steel (used for the cross) is from of the beams at the World Trade Center.”
Greco said the steel cross was a donation from one of Thomas Gorman’s Port Authority co-workers, who is now one of the medical center’s regular donors. The medical center hopes that the plaque and steel cross, as well as its annual memorial blood drive in Thomas Gorman’s honor, will help preserve his memory, Greco said.
“The concept behind that is to extend his legacy of saving lives,” she said. “This is an extremely meaningful way of honoring someone who dedicated his whole life to other people. His spirit lives on.”
Greco said both blood drives provide an original way for people to contribute to the community during the holidays. “We tend to think of holiday giving as monetary, but that is not always the case,” she said.
Both blood drives are also a way for local community members to do something good in their own neighborhoods, especially because the blood collected during these drives goes to local patients at the medical center and its Steeplechase Cancer Center, Greco said.
“This is a chance to impact the life of a local stranger,” she added, “it could even be your neighbor.”
The holiday and winter seasons often see the fewest blood donations of the year, because people often are focused on shopping and traveling, even though the need for blood stays constant year-round, Greco said.
“Our need for blood is certainly heightened during the holiday season,” Greco said. “This is a great way to give. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to promote donating blood as the gift it truly is.”
To give blood: For more information on any of these blood drive events, or to make a donation to Somerset Medical Center Foundation, call 908-685-2885 or visit smcfoundation.com.