Linda Oppelt
/ Categories: Diocesan News, Parish News

Woodland Park blood drive most successful in region

By Doug Fitzgerald

WOODLAND PARK. The Knights of Columbus are out for blood — in the best possible way.

Their bimonthly blood drive, held at Our Lady of the Woods Church, has seen remarkable growth in 2023. Where 2022 was consistently around 70 donors per drive, that number went to 76 in March before skyrocketing to 94 in May, 106 in July and 122 in September.

“That is the largest blood drive I have in my entire Colorado Springs area,” Vitalant Account Manager Emily Stark said. “We pull staff from our metro and our Pueblo areas and bring them all together to support that huge drive.”

Stark, who oversees all of the company’s mobile blood drives for the Colorado Springs region, said that the Woodland Park drive was five times larger than any other. 

She credited two organizers, Danny Keuhlen and Barry Mellen of Knights of Columbus Council No. 625 at Our Lady of the Woods, for the remarkable success.

“It had been the project for Barry and Danny to grow the program,” said Stark, who called Keuhlen and Mellen ‘delightful.’ “They consistently fill that calendar.”

Keuhlen, Mellen and other organizers have grown the drive by applying some old-fashioned military efficiency.

Where it used to be two hours from “questionnaire to cookies,” as Keuhlen put it, it now takes about 45 minutes.

The success of the drive encouraged Vitalant to add a second drive at the Woodland Park library.

But while Stark credits the organizers, they say getting donors through the door is a joint effort between the Knights, Vitalant and Our Lady of the Woods.

An ever-expanding database makes the appointment process smoother and notifies previous donors each time a drive will be held.

“They ask when you sign in if you want to make your reservation for the next time,” organizer Steve Leininger said.

“Eight weeks out you can make your next reservation,” Keuhlen added.

The scheduling is important. So is the experience for the donors.

“Taking care of those folks who take the time of day to come in and give blood to save lives is the most important thing,” Keuhlen said. “Anything that makes it faster, quicker, easier and better for them is what’s the most important thing.

“They’re saving lives and that’s all that really matters.”

Their next blood drive will be Nov. 13. They’re hoping that the recent spike in donations continues.

“Teller County and Park County do that,” Keuhlen said. “Nobody in the Springs can touch (the numbers) with a 10-foot pole.”

(This article originally appeared in the Pikes Peak Courier and is reprinted with permission.)

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