Caps fans rock the red in more ways than one at blood drive

Gene Wu gives every year. Getting a bobblehead is cool, but saving lives is even cooler. (WTOP/J. Brooks)

Usually when you’re talking about blood in the NHL, it has to do with a fight or someone getting hit by a puck. But without games, blood has a different meaning: The Washington Capitals are continuing their blood drive, and fans and non-fans can donate in this time of crisis.

On Saturday, the Capitals began a week-long donation effort, set to run through Sunday, April 5. It’s usually held at the MedStar Capitals IcePlex, where up to 900 donors give blood over a 10-hour span. But these donation events are being held at three Inova Blood Donor Services locations.

One of the locations, the Woodburn Donor Center, in Annandale, Virginia, was full of donors Saturday, some wearing masks and most wearing Capitals colors, but everyone maintained as safe a distance as possible, and everyone, already in a giving mood, was very pleasant under the circumstances.

Donors get a John Carlson bobblehead and T-shirt, as well as a sense of satisfaction. (WTOP/J. Brooks)

Donor Recruitment Manager Heather Wade said “the current donation sites were added for safety reasons,” and hinted that “another big event was already the works for July 18.”

Wade said that making an appointment is the best and easiest way to donate, and to “just be patient” through the process of signing up. Even after the Caps drive ends, the center will be open for donations with extended hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. through April.

Donors usually get a bobblehead and T-shirt depicting a Capitals player. This year it’s defenseman John Carlson.

Gene Wu, an accountant who works for the International Association of Fire Fighters in the District and a long time Caps fan, has been donating since 2004. The bobblehead giveaway is cool, but he does it for other reasons.

“It’s a good feeling to help save lives,” he said, adding, “I know blood banks are low, so why not go out and do something for others?”

He had a message for anyone who is interested in donating: “If you are eligible, it’s pretty painless, and if you can help out some lives, that would be great.”

The Caps usually have four or more events like this a year, but with the already-low supplies of blood and with the coronavirus pandemic, the center is trying to get the word out that you should consider donating if you’re healthy and able.

If you would like to donate, the center will be releasing schedules for March 30 – April 5 over the next few days. They may extend the blood drive because of the pandemic, and because this is a low point of the year for blood donations even under normal circumstances.

  • To donate at the CentreMed location in Centerville, sign up here.
  • To donate at the Woodburn location in Annandale, sign up here.
  • To donate at the Dulles location, in Sterling, sign up here.

You can also call 1-866-BLOODSAVES (866-256-6372).

If you have questions as they relate to COVID – 19, visit the Inova Blood website.

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