When Perry Ott’s office team started planning a blood drive in Emporia, they didn’t know the event would fall in the middle of a viral pandemic.

“The timing just ended up being where it needed to be,” Haley Lawton says. “We’ve been planning it for months – before this all happened. It wasn’t necessarily planned to fall during all of this. I know the Red Cross had a lot of people cancel drives.”

While the drive came about because the office was looking for more community outreach opportunities, it just so happened to fall when the need was growing because of the COVID-19 crisis.

While nearly 3,000 drives around the county were canceled, Lawton, the office manager for Farm Bureau Financial Services agent Perry Ott, and her coworkers proceeded ahead to help relieve what the Red Cross described as a “severe blood shortage.”

 “There’s a few of us in the office who try to give regularly, so a (blood drive) seemed like something we would want to try to host,” Lawton says.

The drive involved opening the office on a Saturday in March so donors could schedule visits to give blood. Even with some last-minute cancelations, 16 people showed up and gave a pint. That exceeded the office goal of 12.

“When we planned it, those of us who normally give, noticed it’s always hard to get in during the week,” Lawton says of the challenges in taking time off during the work week to donate. “We said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it on a Saturday and be open all day. It went really well, and I think it being Saturday definitely helped.”

Click here to make a blood donation appointment with the Red Cross.