By Jennifer Ramsell
For three decades, the Singer Family Community Service Team has led thousands of dedicated blood donors, partners and supporters down a path of continued success—and it has done patients in need of blood a lot of good.
It's hard to say how many pints of blood we have collected over the past 30 years in total, but we do know that we have collected over 22,000 pints in the last 15 years from over 20,000 people. Needless to say, the Gail Singer drive has done a tremendous job educating the community, enticing people to donate frequently (every 8 weeks) and attracting first-time donors at a rapid pace.
It was in 2008 when the drive officially became New England’s largest blood drive, a fitting accolade for the 25th anniversary of the drive founded in memory of Gary Singer’s late wife, Gail. The 2009 and 2010 drives held steady in terms of donor numbers, both achieving a record number of first time donors and maintaining enough registered donors to retain the mark as New England's largest drive.
In 2011, during the 28th annual drive, we challenged New Hampshire donors to help break the national record—and were successful. After collecting 1,959 pints of blood from 2,325 potential donors, we learned we had exceeded the record of 1,835 pints collected in a single day. The Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive officially become America’s largest community blood drive. After breaking regional, state and New England records over the last decade, this honor topped them all and truly helped to memorialize the drive’s namesake, the late Gail Singer.
Gail passed away in 1984 of leukemia. She was 29 when she passed but her legacy lives on year after year. Not only on during the drive in August—but every day through her family and friends. Survived by her husband, Gary, her son Michael, daughter Jessica her legacy continues into the next generation with eight beautiful grandchildren. Her lasting memory has helped to save and brighten many lives.
Creating a blood drive in Gail’s memory was a natural thing to do. Giving back to the community was Gail's way and the nature of her illness had an obvious connection to blood donation. The blood drive is the Singer Family’s signature community service activity, one that has grown substantially over the last 10 years. What used to be a standard size drive held at the Blood Center on Reservoir Avenue in Manchester has blossomed into a record-breaking event at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Elm Street, still in the Queen City.
"Growing pains have been a great thing for us and we have had many wonderful partners over time," said Stephen Singer, chair of the blood drive committee and past president of Merchants Automotive Group. "Each year is a new challenge and it continues to get more and more exciting for us."
"This drive is made possible by far more than the donors who give blood. Local businesses, non-profits and other organizations have really rallied for our cause and become a significant part of this event," stresses Singer. "The support we receive from our presenting sponsors, People's United Bank and Elliot Health System, helps the committee ensure that we have the proper necessities and food, and lends a little help with promotional efforts."
Larger groups contribute to the event in a number of ways like donating food, volunteers, supplies and thank you gifts for donors. Many also participate in the Corporate Challenge, day two of the drive designed to accommodate large groups who want to donate together as a team.
"My phone usually starts ringing in late spring. Local businesses are calling me and asking what they can do to help with the drive—it’s an amazing feeling," he added.
The Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive has become a powerful incentive for other "super drives" across the country. It takes a great deal of cooperation and coordination to garner enough staff and supplies to handle processing so many donors in such a short period of time. Yet recent years have shown it can be done.
"The Red Cross has taken a number of steps to streamline the ‘super drive’ process," said Michelle Heleba, District Manager NH/VT Donor Recruitment for American Red Cross Blood Services in Manchester.
"A couple of years back people were waiting three or four hours to donate blood. It was great to see their commitment and persistence, but we wanted to improve the wait time and get back to the standard 60-70 minute process." added Heleba.
Thanks to the American Red Cross online appointment system, more stations, nursing staff and volunteers, donor wait time has significantly decreased in recent years.
The Gail Singer Memorial Blood Drive is a celebration. First and foremost to the Singer Family and friends, it memorializes a courageous woman’s battle with cancer. For those who never had the opportunity to friend Gail, it is an opportunity to help save a life (or lives) and be a part of a community-wide effort.
"In the grand scheme of things it’s about being a small part of something very big. Giving blood costs nothing but time and the gift itself is priceless," ended Singer.
Gail Singer memorial