Some normalcy in an abnormal time: Capitals Blood Drive

By Mel Abernethy

Our photographer Mel did what she always does and donated blood through the Caps blood drive. We were moved to tears and gratitude by her selfless action today.


I have done the Capitals blood drives since July 2015, that’s when my Dad passed away. Two days after he had passed, I did my first blood drive. I was so afraid of what came with donating blood: needles. But I got through it no problem and since then have gone to every blood drive the Caps and Inova sponsor.

MedStar Capitals Iceplex donor day.

Fast forward to today, March 28th, 2020 and we are smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, which asks us as responsible people to stay home. I had made this appointment back in February at the last blood drive so when notifications started coming in that Medstar Capitals IcePlex was closed, and would be closed through the donation date I started to worry. That’s where all the blood drives have been and it helps me to go there because I know it so well and there are reminders of Caps hockey everywhere which reminds me of my Dad too! Will I be able to donate?! And will they let us donate with COVID-19 health measures asking all to stay home???

Mel and her dad

Sure enough Inova moved the donation centers to three places, one being Annandale VA. I was even more excited to go. Why? I used to live in Annandale when I was in 4th-6th grades. The Woodburn donation center was less than a mile from my elementary school and less than six miles from the old house I used to live in!!

Inova Blood Donor Services assured all donators that extra health measures would be in place when you come to donate. Well, that’s all it took to convince me I needed to keep my appointment and go donate!!

I arrived right at 8am to the Woodburn donation center. The Inova staff was much smaller than the usual Medstar Capitals IcePlex staff and they were only seeing 10 people at a time. It was awesome to see the care Inova put into this to accommodate all us Caps fans who usually fill Medstar all day to donate! Inova has also offered more donation days ahead to help!


Inova donation T-shirt and John Carlson bobble head in hand, I headed out to visit my old elementary school and house, from afar of course! I’ve always gone to donate blood to connect with my Dad, give back and hang out at Medstar while leaving some positive vibes for the Caps. Today was a little different but at the same time equally therapeutic.

John Carlson Bobblehead

I was able to give back in an uncertain time that when some people may feel donating blood could compromise their health. And I got to visit a place where I knew I was safe and happy from my childhood, which helped me to grow stronger as a person. I left some positive thoughts in my old neighborhood and school to help those living there to remember to be strong and brave through these abnormal times!

Mel’s inspiration for giving.

Friends, be like Mel. There is great joy to be found in giving of ourselves for others. We need each other today and we wil need each other tomorrow. Be safe and keep social distancing!

Author: Maggie Marcum

Managing Editor for Friends in Cold Places.

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