HAWTHORNE, NJ - The local Ahmadiyya Muslim Community hosted a Red Cross blood drive in their Hawthorne community center Friday.

The North Jersey Chapter, which worships on Wagaraw Road, collected approximately 50 donations during the blood drive that lasted from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

“When COVID-19 started, the Red Cross reached out all over the United States saying there was a shortage of blood,” said Ahmed Khawaja, director of public affairs at the North Jersey Chapter. “We decided that we should reach out to the Red Cross and offer our location.”

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This partnership is not new for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Since 2011, they have held the "Muslims for Life" blood drive campaign.

“On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we decided that we were going to save 10 times the lives lost on 9/11. To save 30,000 people, we had to raise at least 9,500 pints of blood.”

Khawaja says the 62 chapters of their Muslim community raised more than 10,000 pints of blood, and they kept going. Now they try to hold at least two blood drives per year.

The Red Cross says the need for blood continues. “Blood can only be stored for 42 days and platelets can only be kept for five,” said Alana Mauger, communications manager for the Red Cross Blood Services Penn Jersey. “We don’t want to stockpile too much because we don’t want the blood to expire. As a result, the need is ongoing.”

One Hawthorne resident saw the need up close. Mohammed Chaudhary was a medical student who just finished his certification and is planning to start his residency. He volunteered at the COVID-19 testing site at William Paterson University for 40 days. 

“I was there day in and day out,” said Chaudhary. “When you work that closely you see how someone in trauma can survive because of donated blood. When you see how the receiver benefits from it when they are in a life and death situation, that actually does change you.”

As a result, Chaudhary decided to donate blood during the drive. But that wasn’t his only reason. “This is my Mosque. We all help,” he said.

Reba Hekker drove in from Rockland County New York to also donate blood. She said that she also started trying to donate regularly after the coronavirus hit the area. “I don’t do a lot of volunteering, and this is one way I feel comfortable volunteering,” she said.

That is exactly the impact Khawaja had in mind. “If there is someone locally who needs blood, it is our religious, American, and moral duty to be available to save that life.”

The Red Cross says they have a shortage of blood for the summer and still need additional blood drives in Central and Northern New Jersey. If an organization or person is interested in hosting a blood drive, go to redcrossblood.org to learn more.

Lyn Morton is an independent marketing consultant who provides marketing & client relations for TAPinto Hawthorne & TAPinto Fair Lawn/Glen Rock. Learn more about Lyn and how he can help your business advertise with TAPinto at lynmorton.com/njmarketing.

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