Island pop-up blood drive set for Dec. 21-23

Locals band together to sponsor event.

Ellen Yusim’s name stands at the forefront each time Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation of Mercer Island holds a blood drive.

More than two decades ago, the courageous 16-year-old congregant died of cancer and wished that the synagogue would hold blood drives in her name henceforth. She was concerned for the community’s blood supply after she received a copious amount of blood through transfusions.

The synagogue and the Mercer Island Stroum Jewish Community Center will co-sponsor a three-day pop-up blood drive at Herzl-Ner Tamid, 3700 E. Mercer Way. The drive will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 21 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 22 and Dec. 23. To donate, visit

At press time, 236 people had donated blood at Herzl-Ner Tamid this year and another 120 or so are expected to donate at the Mercer Island drive, according to Bloodworks Northwest. Split into red blood cells, plasma and platelets, up to 708 patients have been served at local hospitals from Herzl-Ner Tamid donors alone.

“We’ve been really gratified to see donors come forward for this important endeavor. The need right now, however, is enormous,” said Herzl-Ner Tamid Rabbi Jacob Herber. “The holiday season is traditionally a time when the need is especially great. At the same time, people are naturally distracted and they aren’t necessarily cognizant of the need to donate blood. Now with COVID-19, we are counting on the whole community to help.”

Added Bloodworks President and CEO Curt Bailey in a press release: “We want to avoid chronic blood shortages as we venture into the winter months and further into the pandemic.” For information, visit

Herber said they retrofitted their building to provide the safest space possible with portable outdoor sinks, plenty of sanitizer, a unique entrance and a large, lighted area.

Stephanie Aaronson, community development manager for the Stroum Jewish Community Center, said they’ve enjoyed working alongside Herzl-Ner Tamid for many years on different projects. She knew their partnership with Bloodworks would be essential when the pandemic hit.

“We are proud to continue this partnership during tough times for many community members. Through partnering with Bloodworks and Herzl-Ner Tamid, we provide our community with ways of donating and provide any person in need with hope,” said Aaronson, noting that they were impressed with the number of community members who donated in the fall.

The blood drive is part of Stroum’s program Mitzvah Corps, which began last fall and addresses community needs through volunteer opportunities and outreach programs. For more information, visit

Each time she donates blood, Peggy Gladner, a Herzl-Ner Tamid congregant, honors her mother-in-law who died of lung cancer in 1990. Her brother-in-law is going through cancer treatment now and that has renewed her dedication to donating blood, she said. She made a recent donation at the Bellevue center and her husband will donate at the Mercer Island drive.

While thinking about her mother-in-law, Gladner said, “I know how important it was that people were there when she needed it, and that’s what got me going and I keep doing it because I see that it does good.”