CLINTON — The Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross honored a special group of Clinton residents during a recent blood drive on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the United Methodist Church.
Established in 1969, the Kirkland Blood Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, recognizing KBC members, Jean Wainwright, Karen Ostinett, Elinor Sorenson and Beverly Rudge, along with her husband, Bill Rudge, the commitee’s founder, with a presentation of certificates of recognition from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
“New York State is fortunate to have outstanding humanitarian organizations like the American Red Cross and the Kirkland Blood Committee, which provide critical, compassionate assistance to those in need during times of emergency and natural disaster,” said Cuomo, in the certificates. “The people of the Empire State are proud to join in celebrating the 50th anniversary this year.”
In addition, each member also received a certificate of appreciation from the American Red Cross.
“Every unit (of blood) collected saves up to three lives,” said Mallory Brown, executive director of the Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “So that means they’re responsible for saving thousands of lives and that’s something we think is pretty special at the Red Cross.”
According to the MVRC, every 56 days you could count on a blood drive happening in Clinton. From 1969 to 2019, the committee, led by Rudge, organized up to six drives annually resulting in nearly 45,000 donated units of blood.
American Red Cross of Central New York Account Manager, Kris Alexich of Syracuse said during the presentation they are not aware of any other group who is responsible for collecting that many units.
“This amount of blood collected is unheard of,” Alexich said. “In gallons collected this is 5,625 gallons of blood collected. But the next number is even more staggering. Those gallons and pints equate to 135,000 lives impacted by the committee’s work.”
Rudge, who is personally responsible for donating nearly 25 gallons of blood over the course of his lifetime, and was presented with a special pin, said he was proud of the work they’ve all done.
“The Red Cross blood program is one of the most important, life saving programs in the country,” said Rudge, while attending the United Methodist blood drive. “ We are very proud to have organized blood mobiles for all these years.”
Rudge also said it wasn’t just he and the people he volunteered with who made this possible, there were others.
“The main reason it’s been successful is all the different people in the community,” Rudge said. “From the churches, the Kiwanis, the Lions and the other organizations who pitched in together to provide helpers, workers and donors, that’s what makes it great. I don’t need to be recognized, what needs to be recognized is the community all working together dedicated to helping each other.”
The members of the community Rudge spoke of were at that very moment busy giving blood. Donors like Clinton Mayor Steve J. Bellona and Clinton resident Pat Bramley who were happy to do it.
“I think it’s great opportunity for public service,” Bellona said. “Also, giving blood is a life-saving adventure.”
“I donate because it’s necessary,” Bramley said. “I might never have the chance to save the life of an accident victim along the roadway, but I can help save a life very time I donate.”