SEATTLE— This winter, volunteers from the International WeLoveU Foundation have been hosting blood drives across the United States to negate the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s blood supply. Amid a flurry of pandemic related news and changes to daily life, the effect of coronavirus on the US blood supply has gone unnoticed by most.
Typically, blood collection firms receive nearly half of their donations from drives held in corporate offices and schools. As most offices and schools transitioned to remote operations this last year, blood drives were canceled throughout the country in a magnitude of tens of thousands. A blood shortage would have dangerous consequences for our health care industry, which is already strained by the global pandemic.
The International WeLoveU Foundation has been proactive in mitigating this concern; they have been raising awareness about the need for blood in their communities and encouraging neighbors to visit their local blood bank in support of public health. In the Seattle area, the organization partnered with Bloodworks Northwest to host a virtual blood drive from February 7th – 21st. For two weeks, donors visited Bloodworks Northwest locations in Seattle, Tukwila, Lynnwood, Bellevue, and Federal Way. About two dozen units of whole red blood were collected and one unit of double red cells. Volunteers expressed hope that their event will have an even wider impact by inspiring neighbors, colleagues, and other community members to donate in the near future.
“I was motivated to donate because I wanted to give back to the community during this time of uncertainty. …I was encouraged to know that many people registered to donate and that together our individual donations were adding up to an even greater impact,” said donor Alexandra Minea.
“Over the years volunteering with the WeLoveU foundation has greatly enriched my life. I feel a better connection with those around me and feel excited to be able to give to the community I live in,” said Ondrea Ellis.
The organization also received a letter from the office of Governor Jay Inslee, which included words of thanks and congratulations for the successful blood drive:
“By ensuring local hospitals have the resources to treat patients in urgent need of blood, your volunteers support our critical healthcare industry and bring hope to us all during these times. …Congratulations on a worthwhile community initiative and for leading by example in your contribution to public health,” the letter read.
This event marked the 376th blood drive hosted by the international organization since its establishment by Chairwoman Zahng Gil-Jah in 2001. US branches of the foundation have been hosting similar drives across the country all winter, including locations in Puerto Rico and at the Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles.
In January, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer sent a letter of encouragement to the WeLoveU Foundation donors which read, “It is admirable that each of you are coming out during this unprecedent time to help save the life of someone else. …By each of you participating in the WeLoveU Foundation’s National Blood Drive, you are helping to save a life and a family from experiencing grief. The American spirit has been seen time and time again through this pandemic, including today at this blood drive.”
Besides its commitment to public health through blood donation, the International WeLoveU Foundation hosts various community service projects worldwide in support of education, emergency relief, “No Poverty & Zero Hunger”, the “C.L.E.A.N. World Movement” for environmental production, and more. Their diverse volunteer activities contribute to global achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
Community members who want to participate in this initiative can visit their local Bloodworks Northwest with the code WLU or contact any blood donation center to schedule their own virtual blood drive. Bloodworks Northwest is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies and using the results to advance public understanding and treatment options against the virus.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL WELOVEU FOUNDATION: Founder and Chairwoman Zahng Gil-Jah established the International WeLoveU Foundation in South Korea in 2001 as a vehicle to deliver love and happiness to neighbors in need. The Chairwoman took a grassroots approach by personally interacting with and caring for the needs of the global village. Through the areas of poverty, hunger, health, education, environmental protection, clean water, sanitation, emergency relief, community well-being, and global partnership, the Chairwoman’s example of giving love has spread from the east to the west and planted itself in more than 50 countries to inspire a healthy and hopeful future.