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Arlington's Carbajal family hosts blood drive
ARLINGTON — Two large buses and tents with refreshments and prizes filled what would ordinarily be the Arlington Depot parking lot in downtown Arlington on Saturday, May 19, for the third annual Carbajal family blood drive, in honor of Elliot Carbajal.
“This is our third year,” said Joyce Phillips, one of the drive’s organizers and Elliot’s sister. “It is really a team effort.”
The drive originated after Elliot Carbajal was killed in 2009 and his family decided to honor his memory by supporting his habit of donating blood.
“Our brother was a blood donor his whole life,” said Phillips. “He would always joke around like, ‘Oh I feel heavy, better go donate blood.’ It was always funny stuff.”
“We did the first one as a memorial,” said Phillips. “But then we decided to try an annual drive.”
This is the first year that the blood drive has required two buses for donors. “This year, we’re hoping to hit 100 donors,” said Phillips, who noted that the first drive saw 56 donors and the second saw 79, but that was only with one bus.
All of the blood donations go to the Puget Sound Blood Center, which has multiple locations along the I-5 corridor.
“People don’t realize that some people have to use the blood center every week,” said Phillips.
This year, the Carbajal family invited those who couldn’t donate blood to bring a donation for the Arlington Food Bank. Dori Spear, food drive coordinator, said she had raised more than 200 pounds of food donations in the first hour of the drive.
“We are just looking for as much as people would like to donate,” said Spear. “Every little bit helps.”
Spear decided to give back to the blood drive as well, and became a donor herself. “I was sitting out there anyway,” she said. “It’s my time to donate.”
The drive offered refreshments for donors and even a raffle with donated prizes for three categories of donors — first-time donors, food bank donors and anyone donating blood. One person from each category was chosen to win one of three gift baskets which included Olive Garden gift cards, sparkling cider, Walker’s Coffee gift cards, Moose Creek barbecue sauce and more.
“They were all donated, which is really fantastic,” said Vanessa Carbajal, who was in charge of running the raffle.
Gayle Richards, donor and volunteer resources representative for Puget Sound Blood Center, said she was incredibly impressed with how the family came together.
“I really want these guys to be rewarded for what they’ve done,” said Richards. “It is so well-orchestrated, with pictures, food, coffee. They are well aware of the need. Many of the family volunteers at the blood center.”
Richards believes that the blood drive was a great way of honoring Elliot.
“He was a multi-gallon donor,” she said. “This where he grew up, here in Arlington. The family has continued on with his legacy.”