The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County was forced to close its doors to members in the wake of  the coronavirus outbreak but continues its vital outreach and support for the community. After announcing a blood drive for the American Red Cross to help increase supply during a severe shortage, more than 150 donors filled all open appointments for blood drives today and tomorrow in Freehold, Old Bridge and Red Bank.  

 Grateful for the immediate community response, YMCA President and CEO Laurie Goganzer is now asking those blood donors and others to assist with critical food insecurity needs at this time.  

“Just two weeks ago, the gym was filled with members, the pools and workout facilities were being used for health and wellness, now, we’re opening our facility to assist with other critical needs, like a blood shortage for the American Red Cross. We will also offer our facilities as locations where community members can safely donate food and other supplies as well as secure crisis food boxes,” Goganzer said. 

  Drop & Go” curbside food drives tbenefit Fulfill and Lunch Break will take place from 12- 5 p.m. at the same locations as the blood drives: 

 March 26  

  • Freehold Family YMCA 470 East Freehold Road, Freehold, 07728
    Food drive needs: Baby diapers and wipes, baby formula, feminine hygiene products, soap and shampoo 
  • Red Bank Family YMCA166 Maple Ave., Red Bank, 07701 
    Food drive needs: White pasta, oatmeal packets, canned soup, canned vegetables, canned tuna, peanut butter 

March 27 

  • Old Bridge Family YMCA1 Mannino Drive, Old Bridge, 08857
    Food drive needs: Non-perishable food and toiletry items 

 Goganzer said the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County will hold additional blood and food drives to meet the needs of the American Red Cross and the needs of local food banks during this health emergency.   The Y’s Freehold Borough Community Center is now a site for distributing crisis food boxes on behalf of Fulfill, she added. 

 The American Red Cross was forced to cancel nearly 200 blood drives in New Jersey,  resulting in 6,500 fewer donations as of March 23 “As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of The American Red Cross. 

 Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood.  Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols, and in response to COVID-19, additional precautions are being made.   All donors will be temperature-screened before being permitted into the blood drive and will be asked to use hand sanitizer before and during the donation process. Additionally, donor beds will be sanitized and spaced to follow social distancing protocols. Red Cross staff will also check their own temperature and change gloves in between donors.  

 The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation, and who meet other eligibility requirements, including weighing a minimum of 110 pounds at being at least 16 years old. 

 Individuals who’ve been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected to have it are asked to postpone their donation, as well as anyone who has recently traveled to China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy and South Korea.  

 Goganzer said that all YMCA health and wellness facilities closed on March 16 as part of the state’s efforts to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Blood drives will take place in the Y’s gymnasiums, which have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. 

 “The Y’s doors may be temporarily closed, but our hearts are open and we will continue to respond to the emerging needs in our community,” Goganzer said. “The American Red Cross has appealed to the public with the motto, Emergencies Don’t Take a Break.’ We are going to do our best to meet community emergencies as part of our commitment.”