SENDING OUT THE SIGNAL TO ATTRACT BLOOD DONORS IN THE SUMMER SEASON

Call it holiday spirit in July, but in the sunny summer months it’s nice to remember that this is a season for giving, too. The SunCoast Blood Bank, which has five locations throughout Florida, has created some creative new promotions to attract blood donors during the summer doldrums and increase foot traffic to local businesses. One SunCoast Blood Bank is in our Bayshore Gardens Shopping Center in Bradenton, Florida.

We spoke with Jayne Giroux, Director of Community Development, about SunCoast Blood Bank’s mission and summer plans.

Let’s start with an overview of SunCoast Blood Bank.

Jayne Giroux: SunCoast Blood Bank (SCBB) is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. A designated first responder, SCBB serves Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. SCBB provides all blood products to 12 hospitals in these communities, which include Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Complex Care Hospital of Ridgelake, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota, Surgery Center at St. Andrews Venice, North Port Emergency Room, Fawcett Memorial Hospital of Port Charlotte, Englewood Community Hospital, DeSoto Memorial Hospital, and Bayflite 2 Emergency Helicopter Transport. Our mission is to provide a reliable supply of the highest quality blood products and services to patients in need. SCBB must collect more than 47,000 units of blood and platelets in 2014. In addition to blood products, SCBB provides a wide range of blood services and medically-ordered therapeutic blood procedures to outpatients and inpatients throughout the region. SCBB also participates in groundbreaking cancer treatment for late-stage prostate cancer patients.

SCBB is running what you’re calling the “S.O.S.” campaign this summer. Can you explain to our readers what that is and how you came up with the idea for the campaign? Are all five SunCoast sites participating in the program?

Giroux: Summer is a challenging time for blood and platelet collections in our communities. Schools are not in session, and with 25 percent of the local blood supply coming from high school and college students, this has a tremendous impact on our supply of blood products. In addition, our winter residents, who are very faithful donors, are gone for the summer. This seasonal shift also impacts local businesses, so we looked to our local restaurant partners to help us motivate donors to give twice, and hopefully increase patronage during their slower season. Donors are eligible to give blood every 56 days. Platelets can be donated every two weeks. The goal of the S.O.S. campaign is to encourage individuals to donate blood or platelets twice during the summer. Those who donated in May and June received a $5 voucher from their choice of participating restaurants. Those who donate a second time, by August 31, will receive a $10 voucher from the participating restaurant of their choice, and will also be entered to win a meal a month for a year. Donors can give at any of the five SCBB donor centers, as well as any of our mobile drives.

What restaurants are participating in the program? Are they tenants in the shopping centers you are located in or are there other sites that signed up as well?

S.O.S. PARTNERS: SCBB partnered with local restaurants to attract donors. Pictured from left to right: John Horne, Anna Maria Oyster Bar; Anne Rollings, Gecko’s Bar and Grill; Rolf Zahnd, Salt Water Café; John Ganley, Cosimo’s Trattoria and Bar

Giroux: The restaurants are not located in shopping centers where we have donor centers. They are all loyal supporters of SCBB and its mission, and are donating 100 percent of the vouchers being given to our donors.

The five participating restaurants are:

Anna Maria Oyster Bar – all three locations in Manatee County

Gecko’s Bar and Grill – all Manatee and Sarasota county locations

Cosimo’s Trattoria and Bar – Sarasota

Salt Water Café – Nokomis

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s – Arcadia only

How are you promoting the program?

Giroux: SCBB is promoting the program heavily among our current donors via our internal communications including a bi-weekly e-newsletter, social media, and via recruiters who schedule drives and appointments. To reach new and less frequent donors, we are promoting the program through traditional media outlets: WWSB ABC 7, SNN, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Bradenton Herald, WENG Englewood, 106.5 WCTQ, and 107.9 WSRZ.

Do you have any other programs, specials or marketing campaigns that take place during the summer season to attract new or returning donors?

FINAL SHIFT: Sarasota Police Chief DiPino waiting in the bucket until 150 units of blood were collected

FINAL SHIFT: Sarasota Police Chief DiPino waiting in the bucket until 150 units of blood were collected

Giroux: Another very important campaign we have each summer is the Boots vs. Badges competition. This is a friendly campaign among our first responders to see who can help us collect the most blood and platelets. The 9th annual campaign kicked off on July 12 at Westfield Southgate Mall in Sarasota from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Firefighters and law enforcement went head to head to see who could encourage the most people to roll up their sleeves and donate. Firefighters were held in a jail, and law enforcement in a bucket, until the goal of collecting 150 units of blood that day was reached. Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino took the final shift of the day, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., to encourage the public to donate. The kickoff event was sponsored by WWSB ABC 7, and Maverick from WCTQ broadcast the event live. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office also hosted a mini SWAT course for the kids. There were fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles on hand for tours, and Bayflite 2 flew in, as well. TooJay’s and Pretzel Twister provided treats throughout the day.

The event will end with a wrap-up blood drive in our South County service area, at CoCo Plum Plaza in North Port, on July 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the same format as the kick-off drive. In between these two events, first responders will host blood drives at their stations with the goal of collecting a total of 300 units of blood during the campaign. The winning agency receives a trophy and bragging rights!

BOOTS VS. BADGES: Firefighter “serving time” during Boots vs. Badges

BOOTS VS. BADGES: Firefighter “serving time” during Boots vs. Badges

For more information about SunCoast, to find a donor center near you, or to locate a bloodmobile in your neighborhood, please visit scbb.org.


This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.