The Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute is a Police, Fire and EMS training academy nationally recognized for its dedication to public safety education and training. On Sunday, August 24, rather than being filled with uniformed cadets, the halls were teeming with bright yellow shirts – the signature look for the members of the World Mission Society Church of God, who were donating blood at the Church of God Mega Blood Drive 2014.

Nearly 1,300 Church of God volunteers, families, friends and local New Jerseyans registered to donate at this historic event. It marked the first time ever that all seven blood centers in the tri-state area partnered together for one single drive. The goal: save more than 3,000 lives.

“You are leaders by example,” said Lillian Pfaff of the New Jersey Department of Health. “Your act of giving blood at this drive serves as a model that can inspire others.”

But the giving did not end with just blood.

For every donation collected, the blood centers agreed to donate five dollars to fund an anti-bullying program at the Bergen County Technical Schools that will be launching in October 2014.

Representatives of the blood centers and government officials – including Pascal George, CEO of Central Jersey Blood Services, and Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan – joined the drive to express their gratitude and admiration for the Church of God and its efforts.

Mary Ditri, Director of Professional Practice of the New Jersey Hospital Association, was very proud of the work of the Church of God members saying, “NJHA has hosted about 25 workplace drives in our own organization. We’ve collected about 1,000 pints of blood. So in one gathering, you’re going to do more than we have been able to do in our small but mighty organization. So I’m very proud!”

Although many first-time donors were nervous about the procedure, they gained courage after being reminded what their sacrifice is able to achieve. As Mary Ditri explained, “Adequate blood supply is literally the lifeblood of so much of the work that we do to save lives. Blood transfusion is needed for so many reasons – for trauma patients coming into our emergency departments with severe injuries, for our cancer patients, our patients that require cardiac surgery, our burn victims, patients receiving life-saving organ transplants, mothers delivering babies when there are complications, orthopedic surgery cases, including hip fractures and other procedures that increase as our population ages.”

Marianne Fuscarino, Volunteer Manager to Blood Ambassadors said, “I wish every event was like this! The personalities of the Church of God volunteers changed the atmosphere and made everything run smoothly. You’re always smiling.”

To create an uplifting atmosphere, Church of God members entertained those waiting to donate blood with exciting performances. Onlookers moved to the beat of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” and grooved to the smooth tunes of Pharrel’s “Happy.” A lot of effort went into ensuring volunteers and guests felt that the drive was a celebration of life.

“This is the nicest group of people I’ve been around in a very long time. Your work is a testimony of your Church. Your hard work is testimony of your leader. It’s astonishing that you’ve reached such a goal. Many thanks to the Church of God,” said Ryan Parker, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.