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United Way Day of Caring food, blood drive returns for second year Friday

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After what the first one was able to accomplish during the height of a pandemic, organizers behind the Day of Caring Regional Food and Blood Drive are expecting even bigger things this time around.

“We know last year many organizations and families would have loved to collect food and send their generous donations to their struggling neighbors, but they were bound by COVID restrictions. This drive signifies that today is indeed a new day,” Greg Raskin, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma spokesman, said of the follow-up event, which is scheduled for Friday.

“We hope people throughout the entire Tulsa area will respond with an outstretched hand,” he said.

Hosted by the Tulsa Area United Way, the 2020 drive brought in an impressive 50,000 pounds of food and 155 pints of blood, officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

The goal for the 2021 drive has been set at 60,000 pounds of food and 180 pints of blood.

“We need everybody’s help to accomplish these goals,” said Tim Lyons, who is co-chairing the 2021 United Way Campaign along with Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith.

“Food insecurity continues to be a big problem in Oklahoma, and the pandemic has caused even more stress for families that were already struggling to put food on the table,” Lyons said.

The daylong drive, the second of three United Way Day of Caring events planned for 2021, is intended to help address critical food needs and blood shortages, officials said.

Food drop-off locations will be operating Friday throughout the Tulsa area and as far away as Wagoner and Okmulgee.

Food donated will go to Community Food Bank or to food service agencies in some of the surrounding communities.

A list of all drop-off sites is available at tauw.org/june25.

Residents are also urged to go to the website and register to donate blood.

Cynthia Gruber, Red Cross donation center manager, said the organization is experiencing a severe blood shortage, with the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries on the rise in recent weeks.

“All blood types are needed, particularly Type O, as well as platelets,” Gruber said.

Blood donation sites on Friday will include YMCA of Greater Tulsa locations and the Tulsa Area United Way.

Alison Anthony, Tulsa Area United Way president and CEO, said: “One of the things that we learned in the pandemic is that, through no fault of our own, we all need help sometimes. We all know someone, or maybe even ourselves, who struggled or who lost a job.

“This is such an easy way to do something great for your friends and neighbors in need in this community.”

Traditionally a one-day event, the organization’s annual Day of Caring is continuing as a multiday event in 2021. It was first expanded to three days in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first event for 2021 was held in March, and focused on service projects in north Tulsa in preparation for Tulsa Race Massacre centennial activities.

The next Day of Caring is set for Oct. 1, and will feature hands-on service projects around the community.

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