OSU Alumni Club hosts final Tailgate Blood Drive


GREENVILLE – Let the season of giving begin with a blood donation at the 30th annual Darke County OSU Alumni Club Tailgate Blood Drive Tuesday, Nov. 14 from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Greenville Church of the Brethren, 421 Central Ave.

Make an appointment to donate with Solvita (formerly Community Blood Center) on the Donor Time app, by calling (937) 461-3220, or at www.donortime.com.

Everyone who registers to donate will receive the “Sleigh-In-It” long-sleeve, holiday season t-shirt and will be entered into a drawing to win New Year’s Day Rose Bowl tickets.

After three decades of helping save lives, it will be the final Tailgate Blood Drive. Darke County OSU Alumni Club President Bill Barga said the club has officially disbanded due to declining membership but wanted to honor its final commitment as a Solvita blood drive sponsor.

“This will be it,” said Barga. “We’re hoping to have some Buckeyes there and the blow-up Brutus. We didn’t really want to give up. There are over 400 Ohio State alumni in the county, but being a rural area like we are, that’s really not that many.”

The club briefly disbanded in the late 70’s. “In 1980 it started up again,” said Barga. “I had just graduated.” The club began a scholarship program, awarding four or five $1,000 to $1,500 scholarships per year to high school seniors in the county for more than 40 years.

The “Tailgate Blood Drive” began in 1993 and was coordinated for decades by OSU graduates and lifelong Darke County educators Wilma Heiby and Tot Heinrich.

“People just keep coming out,” Tot said at the 2013 blood drive. “I think because Ohio State’s been doing so well, that’s brought out a lot of Buckeyes in the area.” Tot was an OSU class of ’49 member known by donors at the Tailgate for the cheese ball she served in the Donor Café.

Tot passed away in 2018 and Wilma in 2019.

For many years the club could count on visits by “OSU Buckeyeman” superfan Larry Lokai and Coach Jim Tressel look-a-like Dennis “Tress” Singleton who handed out Buckeye necklace door prizes and posed for photos with donors.

“We never wanted to give it up because it was really, really good,” said Barga. “For many years we were told it was the highest number of donors in the county.”

The Tailgate Blood Drive had 123 donors at the 25th anniversary blood drive and 111 donors last year. But at the 25th, Barga said, “It was probably our toughest year” for recruiting volunteers because, “people are getting too busy.”

You can save time while helping save lives by using “DonorXPress” to complete the donor questionnaire before arriving at a blood drive. Find DonorXPress on the Donor Time App or at www.givingblood.org/donorxpress.

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