Cullman Caring for Kids/LifeSouth blood/food drive a success

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Cullman Caring for Kids Administrative Assistant Tonja Grace (left) and Assistant Director Nancy Bryant receive food donations and sign in donors waiting to give blood Wednesday afternoon. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Caring for Kids (CCK) and LifeSouth Community Blood Center held a joint blood and grocery drive Wednesday, offering sets of sheets to people who brought in five canned goods or donated blood. CCK Assistant Director Nancy Bryant declared the event an overwhelming success. When The Tribune stopped by at 2 p.m., she and administrative assistant Tonja Grace had already signed in 44 donors, with another two hours still to go. By the close of business at 4 p.m., more than 50 donors had been signed in and 30 pints of blood had been collected. The food bank collected 179 pounds of canned goods.

Said Bryant, “We’ve had a great turnout today! We were just talking about we were amazed at the turnout.”

According to Bryant, the sheets-for-food-or-blood idea came from food bank supervisor Leeann Campbell back in March, but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus shutdown. The packed sets of brand-new sheets were gifts from the Margaret Jean Jones Cullman County Center for the Developmentally Disabled, acquired through its partnership with Walmart.

Said Bryant, “It was just a good gift for people that came in to give blood.”

For LifeSouth, the event was an emergency blood drive, held only when the agency’s available blood supply reaches an estimated two days or less. Due to limited socially distant space on the LifeSouth bus, donors even braved the heat to sit in line and wait their turns to give blood. The community response was so great that staff even had to turn some would-be donors away due to lack of time to get everyone in.

“It’s the hottest day of the year, so far, and these people are sitting out here, dedicated to giving blood to help with this community,” said Bryant. “It’s really amazing! We’ve got wonderful food donations given to us, we’ve had a big monetary donation given to us; it’s just been a great day, and it’s only two o’clock!”

Bryant reported that one anonymous couple arrived, having heard about the blood drive but unaware of the CCK drive. They left without giving blood, only to return a little while later with groceries, food to give to participants and a $500 check for CCK, before getting back in line to make their blood donations.

How is the food pantry doing?

According to Bryant, the CCK food pantry stock fluctuates up and down constantly: a large donation of food will come in one day and a large number of clients in need will take it out the next.

“It’s a constant need,” said Bryant. “It’s looking good, and then tomorrow the shelves’ll be empty. It’s just the way it is; it’s like we get in this wave of food, it goes in the bags, and then we’re empty again.”

CCK accepts donations of any non-perishable food items like canned pastas, canned vegetables, dry rice and beans and such items, but has a particular need right now for cereals, especially brands popular with children.

For more information, to find out how to donate or to make a monetary donation online, visit www.cullmancaringforkids.com or call 256-739-1111.

Bryant concluded, “Whenever there’s a cry in this community, people just listen and they come, and do what we need.”

The Tribune did not wish to pull very busy LifeSouth staff away from their tasks at the drive, but was unable to reach a spokesperson at the agency’s office for a statement.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com