BY GABRIELE HOLTERMAN
With the support of the New York Blood Center, the New York Mets held their semi-annual Fan Blood Drive at five different Queens locations, including one at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, on Thursday, Jan. 14.
The Fan Blood Drive normally takes place at the Mets’ home in City Field, but due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, the organization resorted to smaller locations throughout the borough to control crowd size.
About 150 donors pre-registered for the blood drive at the Shops at Atlas Park, where Pet Supplies Plus was formerly located.
Armando Echeverry, account manager with the New York Blood Center, explained that individuals had their temperature taken upon entering the space and had to answer questions related t0 COVID-19 before proceeding to their triage-like station where they provided further information about their medical history.
Echeverry noted that the New York Blood Center’s supply was dangerously low since nearly all high schools, colleges, offices and other community groups had to cancel their mobile blood drives because of the pandemic. He stressed that the center is in urgent need of blood and that the shortage jeopardizes 75 percent of incoming blood supply.
When asked by QNS what he thought of the Mets’ blood drive, Echeverry chuckled and said, “Through thick and thin, I’m a Mets fan. [The drive] says a lot about the organization and that they care about people, especially when it’s time to step up. We never know when we are going to need blood, and if the blood supply runs low, that is not a good thing. I’m very happy that the Mets are doing this.”
For Mary Burford, a Mets fan from Forest Hills, donating blood was her way to contribute to the community during the ongoing pandemic.
“There is not much that I can do,” Burford said. “I’m not a health care worker and I have the privilege of being able to work from home. So, I just want to do something.”
Those who donated received a voucher for a pair of tickets to see the Mets, a free limited-edition fan T-shirt and an entry into a sweepstakes for signed memorabilia.
In a previous statement by Andrea Cefarelli, senior executive director of recruitment and marketing for the New York Blood Center, said that although it’s a new year, “the challenges presented by the pandemic still very much exist.”
“The vaccine has shown us a light at the end of the tunnel, but we need New Yorkers to come together to help build and sustain the blood supply,” she said “We’re grateful to the Mets for their support and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers — Yankees fans included! — to come out and give.”
While mobile blood donations are on hold for the time being, individuals who are interested in donating can find New York Blood Center locations at www.nybloodcenter.org.
Additional reporting by Angélica Acevedo.