Pint for a Pint: Versiti Blood Center of Ohio taps into breweries to hold donation drives

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Anthony "Sizzle" Perry Jr., co-owner and founder of Crafted Culture Brewing Co., donates blood during the Pint for a Pint blood drive at the brewery, 505 Morrison Road in Gahanna, on May 3.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, according to the American Red Cross.

Central Ohio breweries have been responding to that need ever since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit last year.

Heather Sever, vice president and director of donor services for Versiti Blood Center of Ohio, said it might seem like an unlikely pairing – breweries serving as hosts for blood-donation events. But, she said, the brewery community, as well as distilleries and wineries, are known for giving back to the community.

Versiti Blood Center of Ohio joins four other Versiti Inc. blood centers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, as well as the Blood Research Institute, which offers biomedical research innovation to improve blood health, according to Versiti's Ohio page: versiti.org/ohio.

Katy Wolfe, Versiti donor-recruitment account representative, said support was needed from the community as schools and businesses – which often host blood drives – went remote in the middle of the pandemic.

“The brewery industry is like family, and they greatly support community outreach,” Wolfe said. "So one by one, they got on board, hosting multiple drives throughout the year and beyond.”

Wolfe said Crafted Culture Brewing Co., 505 Morrison Road in Gahanna, has been open for only a few months but helped the cause with a drive May 3.

Crafted Culture didn’t offer a promotion that day, but Versiti gave out T-shirts.

The Versiti Inc. mobile blood-donation unit was at Crafted Culture Brewing Co. for the Pint for a Pint blood drive May 3.

Wolfe said not all breweries participate in the Pint (of blood) for a Pint (mug or glass) promotion.  

Some do not offer any promotion; others offer a $10 to $15 gift card, a beverage discount or a free appetizer, Wolfe said.

Lori Duncan, owner/operations manager at Nocterra Brewing Co., 41 Depot St. in Powell, said Nocterra is excited to hold its first drive May 27.

“We actually have multiple drives lined up with (Versiti) for the remainder of the year,” Duncan said. “At Nocterra, we love to engage with and give back to the community however we can. We've hosted coat drives, park cleanups, and we even built our own donation program called ‘Take a Hike.’” 

Each month, Nocterra selects a local nonprofit to receive proceeds from its Take a Hike beer. 

“It's a great way for us to make meaningful, intentional contributions to local organizations doing good in our community,” Duncan said. “When Versiti reached out about hosting a blood drive, it naturally seemed like something we would want to be a part of. It's cool to know that their donations stay local so you really feel like your contribution is having a direct impact on your community.”

Duncan said one of Nocterra’s owners and brewers was an intensive-care-unit nurse for years before shifting to the craft-beer industry and understands firsthand how critical blood donations are to saving lives. 

“Versiti has made it incredibly easy for us to participate as a host, and we're looking forward to being a long-term partner,” she said. 

Duncan said pint-size mugs would be given to donor participants as part of the Pint for a Pint initiative.

Wolfe said the need for blood is perpetual.  

“In fact, every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood,” she said.  

Versiti supplies the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center with more than 50,000 units of blood each year, Wolfe said.

“There is no substitute for blood, so it’s crucial for the community to continue to host drives and for donors to come out and donate,” she said.

 The Pint for a Pint initiative couldn't be more urgent as blood donations are down, according to Sever.

As more people are getting vaccinated and getting out of their homes, she said, attention has shifted away from blood donation. 

Moreover, she said, drives at schools and businesses, which typically are Versiti’s largest source of blood donations this time of year, have been canceled.

In the first quarter alone, compared to a typical year, Versiti blood centers are down more than 40% in donations – or nearly 20,000 units of blood – from schools and businesses, she said. 

Versiti Blood Center of Ohio is fairly new to central Ohio; it became the sole blood supplier in 2019 to the Wexner Medical Center, which includes the James Cancer Hospital and runs the Blood Battle every year between Ohio State and Michigan, she said.

Scheduled Versiti blood drives are: 

• Via Vecchia Winery Event Center, 2108 S. High St. in Columbus, 2 to 6 p.m. May 13.

• Seventh Son Brewing Co., 1101 N. Fourth St. in Columbus, 2 to 4:50 p.m. May 19.

• Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, 150 W. Main St., Conference Room, New Albany, 1:15 to 5 p.m. May 21. 

• Pelotonia, 500 W. Broad St., Gravity Room, Columbus, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 25. Go online to  make an appointment.

• Nocterra Brewing Co., 41 Depot St. in Powell, 1 to 4:15 p.m. May 27.

• Watershed Distillery, 1145 Chesapeake Ave., Suite D4, Columbus, 2 to 6 p.m. May 30.

• Random Precision Brewing Co., 2365 W. Dublin-Granville Road, Taproom, Columbus. 12:10 to 3:30 p.m. May 29.

Anyone interested in donating or holding a drive should go to versiti.org for more information or email Wolfe at kwolfe@versiti.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

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