St. Denis Church in Whitefield and St. Francis Xavier Church in Winthrop, part of St. Michael Parish, not only found ways to safely hold blood drives in 2021 during the pandemic, they shattered records while they were at it.

Between the churches, more than 470 people donated blood, nearly 500 units strong, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. These are triple the numbers the blood drives produced before the pandemic.

“Blood drives at St. Francis Xavier produced 30% more than the year before, the most since our current database launched in 2006,” said David Stires of American Red Cross Blood Services in Portland. “Each unit of whole blood can be separated into three products (red cells, platelets and plasma) so the amount collected at the two churches potentially saved the lives of more than 1,300 people. The support is greatly appreciated now because it has helped us maintain a strong blood supply for patients during an unprecedented public health crisis.”

The commitment of St. Michael Parish to continue holding the blood drives during the pandemic turned out to be crucial, since many venues that traditionally host blood drives have stopped as a result of the crisis.

“When so many schools, businesses, and churches closed due to the pandemic, the parish made the courageous decision to keep its doors open to help others during this time of need,” said Stires. “It has helped us maintain a strong blood supply for the patients who are counting on us. We are incredibly grateful for the support of St. Michael Parish.”

For more information about future blood drives at the churches, including how to help, call the parish at 207-623-8823.