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American Red Cross, National Baptist Convention Launch “Gift of Life” Campaign

The American Red Cross and the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. celebrated their one-year anniversary of a national partnership with the goal of uplifting communities by focusing on the importance of healthy lifestyles, volunteer service and disaster readiness.

A new and exciting element of the partnership kicked off with the launch of the “Gift of Life” blood campaign. Through the campaign, the two organizations strive to educate African-Americans about the importance of blood donation.

Certain blood types are more prevalent in specific racial and ethnic groups. Therefore, it is essential that the donor diversity match the patient diversity. Additionally, sickle cell disease is prevalent in the African-American community, and the best match for these patients is most often found in a donor with the same ethnic background

To mark the beginning of the campaign, Honorary Chair Josephine Scruggs, the wife of Dr. Julius R. Scruggs, president of the National Baptist Convention, and the American Red Cross hosted a blood drive kick-off Wednesday at the Kansas City Convention Center.

"It was very important for me to give today. I can't ask someone to give without being willing to give myself. I have firsthand experience on the importance of blood donations,” said Scruggs. “My brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and only given a couple of months to live. Had it not been for the platelets and the transfusions he received he would not have made it an additional 18 months. He was able to enjoy golf, his grandchildren and a higher quality of life thanks to receiving blood. "

The National Baptist Convention represents tens of thousands of churches nationally. More than 30,000 people were expected to be in attendance.

“A year ago, the American Red Cross and the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., embarked on an important partnership to help communities prepare for – and, if necessary, respond to – disasters,” said Vincent Edwards, executive director of the Metropolitan Blood Program for the Red Cross. “We have made excellent progress in those areas and on the one-year anniversary of the partnership, we both decided to take the next logical step: to promote the importance of blood donation, since blood is needed following disasters and in everyday situations. The National Baptist Convention has been a great partner and holding a blood drive at their 130th Annual Session has been a significant event. The bottom line is, two great organizations are working together to improve the communities we serve.”