“My late husband was in great need during the time that he was battling cancer. And I saw what it did for him every time he got a transfusion. It just made a huge difference. It was from one day to the next. It was incredible.”
Kirschman’s daughter also needed blood derived treatments when she was diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura as a teen.
“I just really wanted to do something to give back,” Kirschman relays.
She is a donor herself, having given more than 100 units. Kirschman, type O-negative, is a universal donor and is cytomegalovirus negative (CMV negative), meaning her blood can be given to nearly any patient of any blood type and can help premature babies. Her family's personal need and the knowledge that she could help an infant are what keep her involved.
Kirschman and her co-chair Patti Keating have taken that dedication and turned it into successful blood drives, motivating others to get behind their cause. Hosting four drives a year and collecting 80-85 pints per drive, they are making a big impact on their community.
A group of volunteers calls all past donors with a blood drive reminder leading up to the drive and Kirschman emails reminders as well. They promote the drive through social media, flyers, events and at their annual July 4 parade.
Kirschman attributes much of their success to evolution of social media. They promote their blood drives on Nextdoor, Instagram and several community Facebook pages.
“I find it seems to really be drawing out donors and many new donors as well,” says Kirschman. “It’s what we really need because we have so many donors that have aged out due to medication or are just unable to donate anymore.”
They have faced challenges. Due to pandemic-related facility changes their drive had to be moved twice. Not a small feat for a town with a population less than 6,000. But not one drive was canceled.
Kirschman and Keating have the support of a large volunteer crew which helps to move furniture in their current location to prepare for the drive, put out signage around town, help in preregistration and refreshments and even to make extra goodies for donors on the day of the drive.
“We are known for the wonderful goodies that the ladies bake as well as our local Bel Air Grocery Store donating either a fresh fruit platter or fresh veggies and dip for each drive,” she says. “We have one lady who was a bone marrow recipient and her ‘give back’ is she makes her famous peanut butter balls for every drive and some people say they come just for those!”
In the past, they even had one very special donor and volunteer -- Rich Hunt, who was referred to as “The Daffodil Man” -- donate daffodil bulbs for all the donors. While he has since passed, they honor him yearly at their October drive.
When asked what she’d tell anyone on the fence about hosting a blood drive, Kirschman simply replied, “Jump off the fence and do it. It’s rewarding and such a necessary thing. It really is and I don’t think you would regret it.”
There’s no doubt about it. Rancho Murieta Community blood drives are making a big difference in the lives of families just like Kirschmans.