Letter to the editor: It’s important to keep Red Cross Blood Drive in Wilton

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wilton has sponsored Red Cross blood drives since 1995. When the drive outgrew the church basement, it was moved to the Wilton Community Center. Since it was such an important activity with a nonprofit sponsor, the community center was made available for the nominal fee of $20 dollars per use, six per year. The church pays the fee. Until Covid, church members also provided most of the refreshments.

Many area people, including the Amish community, donate blood; something over 50 units each time; the potential to save three lives per unit. St. Paul’s joined forces with the Brookwood FFA during the pandemic and continues to this day. Students, along with their adviser Mrs. Sarah Schmitz, assist at the drives. The American Red Cross scholarship awarded to a 2020 FFA/BHS graduate was $3,000.

During 2021, one of the prescheduled blood drives could not be held at the Wilton Community Center because of a double booking. It was held at the Wilton Fire Station to meet the emergency, but the fire station is not otherwise available.

The Wilton Village Board has now raised the charge to nonprofits to $50 with a grandfather clause for activities previously scheduled. The 2022 drives were prescheduled.

The revised contract authorizes the village a 30-day cancellation option. A 30-day cancellation doesn’t work for regularly scheduled blood drives or anything else scheduled in advance; e.g., wedding receptions. Finding an alternative site that works on short notice is nearly impossible.

It is important to keep the Red Cross Blood Drive in Wilton since the community center works so well, the drive has local support, and it is within buggy traveling distance for the many Amish who contribute. Fifty-plus units of blood six times a year is no small matter. And it brings a lot of people to town on a Saturday.

Keeping it in Wilton is becoming increasingly hard to do.

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