Santee veterans give ‘gift of life’

Photo by B.J. Coleman. Arline McLendon of the Auxiliary of VFW Post #9317, donates blood and platelets at the post’s First Annual Blood Drive on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

With generational successions come new ways of thinking. In volunteer service organizations, that translates into new ways to serve.

Jose L. Marrero is the newly installed commander at Santee’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9327. His newly installed counterpart with the co-located American Legion Post 364 is “Nurse Commander” Robyn Nolin. These commanders, with assistance from members of the VFW Auxiliary of Post 9327, hosted a Blood Drive on Saturday, Sept. 14. This was the first such event held at the veterans post, and the plan is to stage this annually, challenging East County residents to participate.

Blood donors and hosts reiterated throughout the five-hour event that they were giving “the gift of life” with donations to the San Diego Blood Bank.

Marrero and Arline McLendon from the Auxiliary were among the first donors to enter the SDBB Blood Mobile parked just outside the Post. The Post chaplain, Tommy Forsythe, was not far behind.

“Donating blood is a much-needed volunteer activity,” Marrero said. “Disaster happens everywhere, and you’d never know where my blood can be used for a good cause. I’m thankful that I can donate blood when I can. I’m looking forward to our next event.”

The experience was a comfortable one, said McLendon.

“The nurses were very nice, very professional,” McLendon said after exiting the Blood Mobile. “And I like the TV.” (Each reclining donor bed had a television screen.) “I’ve donated to the Red Cross before,” McLendon said, “but I really prefer donating to the San Diego Blood Bank. They keep it local.”

McLendon said the American Red Cross may transfer stored blood out of the donor’s region, but that SDBB maintains donations within San Diego County to serve the local community.

Open live-microphone musicians performed in the post’s social quarters. Girl Scouts from local troops staged a bake sale in the adjacent meeting room, and members of the American Legion Riders Chapter 364 offered burgers and hot dogs for sale.

After the event concluded, Marrero summed up in gratitude.

“I want to thank all who came out and supported this blood drive event,” he said. “It was a huge success. We exceeded our goal of 25 donors and reached a total of 39 donors, to include platelets donors as well. I also want to thank our VFW Santee Post 9327 Auxiliary and our American Legion 364 for their ongoing support for the VFW Santee Post 9327. Without them my job as Commander of the VFW Santee Post 9327 would be much harder.”

San Diego Blood Bank representatives reported that the drive collected these donations: 21 Whole Blood Donations; 12 Double Red Blood Cell Donations; and 4 Platelet Donations.

The Santee veterans post is located at 8516 N. Magnolia Avenue and can be contacted at (619) 562-4022. The post is open to the public for weekend meals, football games and live entertainment. Taco Tuesdays and Wing Wednesdays are offered on a variable schedule.

The post’s next big event is a VFW District Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, Sept. 21.