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Sunday, April 26, 2020

COVID: Masonic Lodges Help Local Blood Bank Programs

by Christopher Hodapp

Local news sites all over the country are reporting on Masonic lodges taking action in their communities during the COVID-19 Wuhan Virus shutdown. The most common stories are about lodges hosting local blood drives. 
Stories are popping up everywhere of blood donation drives held in Masonic lodges: WisconsinNew JerseyNorth CarolinaTennesseeTexasCalifornia... the list is endless.

There are blood shortages all over the U.S. right now. More than 80% of the blood collected for the nation's supply comes from volunteer collection sites at community locations like churches and fraternal lodges. But over a month ago, on March 17th, the American Red Cross issued a statement that, due to the COVID pandemic, some 2,700 Red Cross blood drives had already been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 86,000 fewer blood donations.

Blood drive at Shoreline Masonic Lodge in Shoreline, Washington. Photo: ABC News
With the social distancing demands of the mass lockdown orders, blood banks (and food banks, by the way) are begging for all the help they can get. So, both churches and fraternal lodges are stepping up to help. 

This isn't new in some Masonic jurisdictions. Some grand lodges have statewide programs, others hold ad hoc blood drives at large events like their annual communications,  but most leave such things up to local lodges' gumption and motivation. 

The Grand Lodge of Virginia has long had their official Masonic Community Blood Program. Its longtime goal has been "to strengthen those Lodge Blood programs now in existence, integrate and coordinate them into an effective statewide activity, and to encourage creation of such programs in Lodges which do not have them."

Virginia's statewide blood program has been in place for many years, so it's unreasonable to expect one started from scratch in a new juriusdiction to be anywhere as organized or thought out as theirs. The middle of a pandemic when everyone is locked in their houses is a difficult set of circumstances to construct a structured framework like theirs. But have a look at Virginia's Community Blood program web portal HERE to get a better idea of their system. It's not so much a program as it is a set of guidelines and an ongoing blood donation contest between their lodges. They keep a statewide tally by lodge of number of pints collected.

There is also a two-page set of guidelines and organizing methodology available as a download HERE.

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