Pastor leads efforts to collect blood

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 23, 2004

The Rev. Dr. Kenny Hatcher, who grew up in nearby Montevallo,

puts his money where his mouth is – meeting the blood needs of Alabama’s Black Belt.

He’s served as pastor of Northside Baptist Church for the past 6 1/2 years and believes deeply in the American Red Cross and the blood that flows through its veins to those in need around the nation.

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Hatcher is happy that there are a number of agencies that collect blood, but there’s one, in his opinion, that stands above all the others – the American Red Cross.

“There are any number of agencies that will take your blood, but if your house is destroyed in a hurricane, Red Cross is the service agency that will address the need.

“I’m a donor and Northside Baptist is a donor site. In fact we’ll be having a drive on Wednesday,

Aug. 25, from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Northside, located at 2950 Citizens Parkway.

“In addition, we’ll be collecting donations for Hurricane Charley relief at our church from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” he said.

Hatcher, who has been with Red Cross for a number of years and president of the local chapter since June, says that he and his church believe so strongly in the mission of Red Cross that the church has four drives a year, timed to come right before those times and seasons of the year when blood will be most needed – in May before Memorial Day, in August before Labor Day, in November before Thanksgiving and Christmas, and in March or April before summer when donations are traditionally lower.

“I look forward to the drive at Northside on Wednesday and hope we can make a difference,” he said.

“It dovetails so nicely with the mission of the church. What could be more Christian than making a donation of your blood?” he said.

Hatcher said that supplies are and have been critically low in the five-county area served by the Selma-based chapter and that most people can give blood. Only a few cannot, he said.

The local chapter has made a difference, according to Hatcher, who said that last year Selma was recognized on the Red Cross S.A.L.T. (Save-A-Life Tour) as one of the cities making a difference nationally. He’s proud of that distinction.

Hatcher has concerns about the future of blood donations.

“The older generation that grew up giving blood – those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II – were taught to give blood regularly. That’s not true with the younger generation and so we have to teach them to do what their parents and grandparents did routinely,” he said.

Hatcher said that while the blood donated in this area can technically go anywhere, most often it stays here to help family members, friends and neighbors in need.

Northside is not the only organization conducting drives. Hatcher praised other churches, schools, businesses and organizations that participate in the effort year round.

Donors must be at least 17 years old, he said.

Hatcher said that Red Cross also takes care of single family home fires, trains lifeguards, conducts AIDS education and routinely conducts CPR classes, in addition to activities related to disasters and collection and distribution of blood.

The new director of the Black Belt Chapter of the American Red Cross is Jeanette Crusoe.

Hatcher has other involvements as a volunteer, chief of which is serving as on-call chaplain for the Selma Police Department, to counsel with officers and others as needed in times of stress or crisis. He is endorsed by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention as a law-enforcement chaplain.

Hatcher, who is living in Selma for the second time, is bullish on Selma. “Here I have found some of the best people I’ve ever run across in my life. They are a loving bunch of folks,” he said.

In addition to his work as pastor of a growing church and a community volunteer, Hatcher also pursues other avocations. He makes arrowheads – the old-fashioned way – with a group of friends in Missouri. He also has made four recordings over the years. His latest is “Kenny Hatcher” and has 11 tracks

on it – two of them original, numbers 5 and 7.

“I’ve been writing music since I was a kid,” he said.

Hatcher’s CD can be purchased at the church office, Davis BP, One Way Books and Pilcher-McBryde Drug Co.

Hatcher is married to Phyllis Hatcher and they have two grown daughters, Amy and Brandy.

For further information about conducting a drive or making a donation, call Red Cross at (334) 874-4641, and for obtaining the CD, call (334) 874-8276.