YMCAs Address Blood Shortage, Other Community Needs During Pandemic

By: Mollie Shauger | Thursday, April 2, 2020 | Social Responsibility

Illustration of raised hands holding hearts.

LIVINGSTON, NJ - As coronavirus cases continue to grow and impact more communities, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is stepping up to address the ongoing need for blood donations, child care for essential workers, and other community needs during this pandemic.

“The YMCA has been called upon in many crises, conflicts and emergencies throughout our history, and this time is no different,” said Richard K. Gorab, President and CEO of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges “Although our facilities are closed in response to this current public health crisis, the YMCA is continuing to meet the urgent needs of the community.”

Organizations like the American Red Cross are experiencing fewer blood donations due to the cancellation of blood drives amid coronavirus concerns. The Red Cross alone has reported more than 325,000 fewer blood donations due to the cancellation of blood drives across the U.S.

The YMCA has planned the following donation drives to help replenish the supply of blood in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

  • South Mountain YMCA, 10 West Parker Ave., Maplewood
    • Sunday, June 28 & Sunday, Aug. 23
    • 9:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.
    • Visit redcrossblood.org for appointments and eligibility. 
  • Sussex County YMCA, 15 Wits End Rd., Hardyston
    • Wednesday, July 29
    • 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    • Appointments are strongly recommended: visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825).
  • East Orange YMCA, 100 North Arlington Ave., East Orange
    • Sundays, Aug. 9 and 30
    • 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
    • Visit redcrossblood.org for appointments and eligibility. 
  • Fairview Lake YMCA Camps, 1035 Fairview Lake Rd., Newton
    • Wednesday, Aug. 5
    • 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    • Visit redcrossblood.org for appointments and eligibility. 
  • All blood types are needed and donating is a safe process. The YMCA and partners are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of donors and volunteers, including temperature checks upon entrance, adhering to social distancing guidelines throughout the donation process, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and medical supplies. The Red Cross also requires that donors schedule appointments to give blood.

Donors participating in either Red Cross or Vitalant drives are also required to wear face masks or coverings when they donate. 

Red Cross also offers a RapidPass option to donors, in which they can complete their pre-reading and health history questions online to help reduce the time they spend at blood drives by up to 15 minutes. Visit https://www.redcrossblood.org.

Learn more about how the Red Cross is make donating safe at redcross.org. Read about Vitalant's safety measures here: www.vitalant.org/COVID-FAQs.

“The American Red Cross is extremely grateful to the many blood donors in New Jersey who are rolling up a sleeve and for our partners like the YMCA who are opening their doors to host blood drives during this challenging time,” said Rosie Taravella, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “The ongoing need for blood remains amid coronavirus uncertainties. The Red Cross encourages individuals to keep scheduled blood donation appointments when possible and to make new blood donation appointments for the weeks and months ahead to ensure a stable supply throughout this pandemic. Thank you to all blood donors and blood drive hosts who are helping and to all who will be.” 

“Our blood collection sites are a ‘first response’ action to this outbreak versus a gathering that needs to be avoided,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Vitalant’s chief medical and scientific officer. “If you’re healthy, you’re needed now more than ever. We cannot let it get to the point where there’s no blood available for trauma patients, those undergoing cancer treatment and patients who need regular, ongoing blood transfusions just to survive.”

Here for the community

Child Care for Essential Workers

The YMCA has temporarily opened two of its licensed child care locations to offer quality and safe care to families of healthcare workers, first responders, and those providing essential services. The East Orange YMCA and West Essex YMCA will provide full-day child care five days a week. Families must register online.

Wellness Checks for Seniors

The YMCA continues to conduct wellness checks with our seniors who are most vulnerable to isolation during this pandemic. We’re actively looking for more opportunities to provide needed food for these residents and families while schools and other resources are closed. 

Virtual Y at Home

The YMCA continues to engage members and people in the community even while its facilities are closed. The Virtual Y at Home is a hub for healthy living at home, providing free access to fitness videos, activities for kids and families, mindfulness resources, and more. The Metro YMCAs’  YouTube Channel provides an extensive collection of videos by YMCA staff, including workouts at one’s leisure, activities for children, children’s books read by child care staff, and more. Even Fairview Lake YMCA summer camp families and students can experience camp virtually, enjoy a nature lesson, or learn mindfulness techniques. 

Virtual Distance Learning Support and Personal Training

The YMCA has launched a virtual support program to help school age children complete their distance learning lessons, and is working on a virtual personal training program to help adults stay healthy and active while at home. 

The YMCA is asking members to #StayWithUS so that we have the financial resources to support these initiatives, and so that we are stronger when the time comes to reopen.


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