On November 2nd, 2014, despite the brisk weather, devotees of Shri Surya Narayan Mandir and members of the Community gathered in the courtyard, starting at 10 AM, to donate blood. Shri Surya Narayan Mandir, in tandem with the New York Blood Center, organized a blood drive through which devotees of the mandir and members of the community were granted this wonderful opportunity for seva, in the comfort of their mandir environment.
Devotees of the mandir were directed to registration following Sunday services to fill out their paperwork and gather needed materials. Once cleared by organizers of the blood drive, the devotees were then redirected to the mobile facility in the courtyard, where they were greeted by eager NY Blood Center employees, who made the process as least painful as possible, and as much enjoyable as possible. Once in the mobile facility, the devotees were put to lay on a chair, where it took anywhere from 10-20 minutes to donate a pint of blood.
While to some that number sounds like a lot, and to others it sounds little, a pint of blood can save up to three lives, according to the New York Blood Center. As a 17-year-old who donated for the first time, I must say that while I was nervous initially, knowing that my 6 minutes of discomfort could save the lives of 3 people in need gave me the greatest joy I have ever experienced. While many fear the needles and sight of blood, the truth is that you just might save someone you know – a family member, a friend, a neighbor, and the list goes on.
Another interesting fact brought up by a representative of the New York Blood Center was that when a transfusion is needed for a patient, often the blood center tries to match the blood not only to blood type, but also ethnicity. As it turns out, an individual that gets a transfusion with blood from someone of the same ethnicity usually fares better, compared to the same patient receiving blood from an individual of a different ethnicity.
Above all, however, is the lesson of seva. It is the little opportunities such as this that we are presented with in life that give us an opportunity to give back. Everyday, whether we realize it or not, we deprive someone or something to meet our basic needs. We are given so much in our lives, however there are times where we must step back and not only be thankful, but also give back to those who have provided for us. As Lord Krishna says in the Srimad Bhagvad Gita, “‘Through selfless service, life will be fruitful and one will find fulfillment of all desires: this is the promise of the Creator…” We must follow this very simple direction in our lives, and we are sure to find fulfillment and joy wherever we go. Join us next year, when Surya Narayan Mandir conducts its 5th Annual Blood Drive.