Sometimes, with the media’s focus on all that is bad in the world, we need to remember that angels surround us.
One such angel is Fresno County Correctional Officer Juanita Davila. She and fellow officer Toamalama Scanlan were seriously injured during a shooting at the Fresno County Jail on Sept. 3.
Allow us to share our definition of “angels.”
They are people who give more than they take. They are first in line to help. They seek to improve our community and lift the spirits of others.
This week, Davila helped kick off the annual Holiday Heroes Blood Drive at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis by encouraging local residents to give the greatest gift of all this season – blood.
The Sheriff’s Office’s participation in the annual blood drive honoring injured and fallen officers has become an enduring tradition.
This year, the drive has taken on even more meaning because of the terrible events of the past year. In addition to the injuries suffered by Davila and Scanlan, Sgt. Rod Lucas was killed Oct. 31 when he was accidentally shot by a fellow deputy.
The blood drive is “for the fallen heroes, honoring them, especially Sergeant Rod,” Davila told The Bee’s BoNhia Lee. “It’s important to be able to have access to the blood.”
Officials with the Central California Blood Center are hoping that at least 500 people donate during the event, which ends Dec. 30.
The need is great around the holidays, said Leslie Botos, the center’s director of community relations. “People are busy, on the road” and others are “sick and hurt and we don’t think about it.”
Davila, who was shot in the face, said she is on the road to recovery and keeping busy by accepting invitations to Christmas parades and other community holiday festivities. She has appeared at numerous public events since being released from the hospital Sept. 16.
“It’s my way of thanking everyone,” Davila said. “It keeps me going. It’s great and keeps me in great spirits, and that’s important for me and my family and friends and to continue with my therapy. … If you can donate, please come in and donate because I might be the one who needs it down the road.”
Davila’s message resonated with Kelleen Kennon, 18 years old and a first-time donor. She was shopping Monday with her mom when she saw the blood drive and made a last-minute decision to donate.
“I’ve had a lot given to me and want to help those who are in need,” Kennon said. “Financially, I haven’t been able to help, but if I can help save a life that’s great.”
We encourage everyone to add the gift of blood to their holiday shopping lists. It won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time. When done, you’ll get a Sheriff’s Heroes T-shirt and entry into raffles to win $100 mall gift cards and movie passes to Sierra Vista Cinema 16.
You’ll get something else, too: The joy of giving back to your community and potentially saving someone’s life.
HOLIDAY HEROES BLOOD DRIVE
When: Noon to 6 p.m. through Dec. 30, closed Dec. 24 and 25
Where: Sierra Vista Mall, 1050 Shaw Ave., Clovis, in Room 115 near Kohl’s