Their mission is saving lives
Guttenberg wants to expand donor participation in annual blood drive
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Dec 23, 2012 | 3225 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CONTINUED DONOR – Bogota resident Sal Donatacci donating blood at the Galaxy Mall’s Blood Drive after getting out of work in North Bergen.
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The Galaxy Towers Social Committee, in conjunction with Mayor Gerald Drasheff and the Town Council collaborated on this year’s annual Blood Drive, and the mayor would like next year’s event to have an even broader outreach in the community.

“The Red Cross’s need for blood is pretty extensive and anything we can do to encourage anybody to participate we wanted to do,” said Drasheff. “We spoke about making it a broader appeal to have the entire town come in and donate.”

Drasheff said participation may have been down this year because the drive was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. It took place on Thursday, Dec. 6 from 4 to 9 p.m., included new and continuing donors, and was relocated from the Galaxy’s spa lounge to the more-accessible Galaxy Mall.
“We hope they’ll invite the rest of the town to participate again next year.” – Mayor Drasheff
Coordination of The Blood Drive has been passed down from one Galaxy Towers resident, the late Bob Collin, to Elsa and Niels Schwarz, the new coordinators. Elsa Schwarz said she believes the Blood Drive has been running for approximately 20 years.

Red Cross Team Leader/Supervisor Gabriel Cucu says one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Town effort

What once began as a Blood Drive for residents of the Galaxy, held at the spa lounge within the towers, has now become a town event. Drasheff and the Town Council contacted personnel at the Galaxy Mall to expand the accessibility of the Blood Drive in the hopes of drawing in more members of the community, not just Galaxy Tower residents.

“It’s easier for people from the rest of the town to be able to have access to the mall then it is to the spa lounge,” said Drasheff.

Drasheff does not want to distinguish the Galaxy Towers from the rest of the town but rather make the Blood Drive a town-wide effort.

“I’m always trying to encourage and foster the idea that it’s not two towns, it’s not the Galaxy and the rest of Guttenberg, it’s all part of one town,” said Drasheff. “It became a town effort as opposed to a Galaxy condominium effort.”

Drasheff looks forward to collaborating next year with the Red Cross once more.

“We hope they’ll invite the rest of the town to participate again next year,” he said.

Pining for the pint

One pint of blood may seem like a minimal effort. But to the Red Cross it means helping those who need it most.

“Our mission is saving lives,” said Rosana Tabakci of the Red Cross.

One pint today could mean saving three lives tomorrow. Cucu said that in his four years of being part of the Blood Drive he has seen approximately 40 donors every year.

To participate, there are some routine questions to answer, then a physical with more in-depth questions that must be answered by potential donors prior to giving blood.

Cucu’s advice for donors is to eat before donating, drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, stay away from beverages such as coffee which cause dehydration, and be well rested. His advice is to deter donors from fainting or becoming weak after giving blood.

“[This is] so nobody faints and it’s a pleasant experience,” said Cucu.

Red Cross personnel, such as Cucu, urge donors to continuously give blood.

“Keep on coming back,” said Cucu. “They’re doing a great thing for the community.”

Once a pint is donated, donors have to sit for 10 to 15 minutes since their blood pressure drops afterwards.

Donors needed

Residents were asked to make appointments by visiting and using the sponsor code provided. For further information residents were also asked to call 1-800-RED-CROSS for donor guidelines, bring a photo ID and remember to eat prior to donating blood.

Bogota resident Sal Donatacci works in North Bergen and was contacted by the Red Cross about the event because he is an avid blood donor.

“It helps giving blood,” said Donatacci.

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at

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