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December 20, 2014

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Angels in the Valley:

Blood drive has a caped crusader

Image

Mona Shield Payne

GriefShare facilitator Carol Von Eschen visits with Shane Price, 35, while donating blood in the United Blood Services’ mobile van during the blood drive at New Song Church in Henderson Sunday, April 6, 2014.

On blood drive Sundays, Carol Von Eschen rises before dawn to make sure the coffee pot at New Song Church in Henderson is brewing by 6 a.m.

She’s there to serve the “frequent flow-ers.”

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Community Angel: Carol Von Eschen

Dressed in a red cape emulating a droplet of blood, GriefShare facilitator Carol Von Eschen stands in front of the United Blood Services' mobile van waiting to greet church members during their blood drive at New Song Church in Henderson Sunday, April 6, 2014. Launch slideshow »

They’re the 35 or so blood donors who show up every time, and they’re the key to one of the most prolific church blood-drive campaigns in the valley.

“They passionately want to help the Las Vegas community,” Von Eschen said.

Von Eschen has helped lead the New Song Church drive since 2005. In nine years, the church has hosted 24 blood drives and donated 894 pints.

Blood drives have grown more difficult as regulators added tighter restrictions to keep the supply safe. Even so, New Song has grown from donating 18 pints after its first one-day drive to donating 38 pints after its most recent drive April 6. Church members hit a one-day high of 75 pints in 2013, thanks to a partnership with an Eagle Scout. Another scout also helped organize the church’s two-day blood drive ending Aug. 3.

Von Eschen, 62, moved to Las Vegas in 2004 with a job transfer as a workers’ compensation claims examiner. The blood drive is how she gives back.

Most of the donations go to local hospitals to help Las Vegans.

“What’s better than giving your life’s blood to your community?” Von Eschen said.

As chairwoman of the New Song health and wellness committee, Von Eschen takes the lead on blood drives three times a year. She’s careful to share credit with her team, but she is the one who wears the cape. Literally. Yes, a blood-red cape.

Every Sunday for a month, Von Eschen stands outside the sanctuary doors, wearing the cape and holding a clipboard seeking sign-ups leading to each drive. The tactic works.

“They have to get past me to get out the door,” she laughed.

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