‘Paying it forward’: Sorority continues Wiscasset blood drive tradition

Friday, Feb. 22 at First Congo
Sat, 02/16/2019 - 8:00am

Peg Averill said without the blood transfusions her father Frank Cromwell got for years, she wouldn't have had him as long as she did.

"That's what kept him going, and it was through the generosity of strangers (donating blood). That's why I'm so passionate about this," the Alna woman and Ames True Value secretary said Sunday about the inspiration for yearly blood drives she and her Beta Sigma Phi Alpha Iota sorority sisters arrange with the Red Cross. "We're paying it forward."

Cromwell, of Westport Island, needed the blood when he was being treated for the Wegener's vasculitis that was attacking his kidneys, Averill said. Ten years after her father’s death at 69, the tradition of the blood drives continues this Friday, Feb. 22 at First Congregational Church of Wiscasset.

The drive runs from 1 p.m to 6 p.m. Averill said donors can expect to be there about an hour, from registering to giving blood and having sorority members help them to a seat for refreshments including juice and the warm chocolate chip cookies she said the drives are known for. Donna Gregory used to help Averill's mother Phoebe Cromwell, also a Beta Sigma Phi Alpha Iota sister, make the cookies. This year, Gregory will help make them in memory of her friend and fellow Westport Island resident. Cromwell died last October. "We all miss her terribly,” Gregory said.

"I think Mum would be glad to know we are carrying that on," Averill said.

Citing a redcrossblood.org statement that one blood donation can save up to three lives, Averill encouraged turnout Friday. "Don't wait until it's your loved ones in need of blood, be it from a car accident or an illness. It's so important ... It's a life-saving gift. "