Once again, the South Arkansas Arts Center will be the host location for the annual Banker’s Blood Drive on Tuesday, March 23, from 9:00-6:00pm. Guests are asked to enter through the large gallery access doors to sign-in on arrival, then will move to the theatre where LifeShare staff will set-up to take donations. Participating banks sponsors are BancorpSouth, First Financial Bank, Regions Bank, Simmons Bank, Smackover State Bank and Southern Bancorp.

Donors names will be put into a drawing for a $600 Walmart gift card and door prizes will be given away every hour. T-shirts will be given to the donors and food is provided by the banks and generous community businesses. There will be food donations from local pizza restaurants, The Spudnut Shop, and homemade cookies from local bakeries.

Not only are the banks’ employees the organizing force for the annual blood drive, they are donors as well. “The El Dorado Bankers host the largest LifeShare event hosted in Arkansas,” said Doug Bryant, LifeShare account manager. “In the past years, the community has donated between 95-125 units at the Bankers drive. They have set a new goal for 2021 for 150 units.”

The SAAC staff had to find a way to host the event, but still follow the covid safety guidelines. This year SAAC will host a streaming performance of the 2018 “Singin’ in the Rain” musical video revival, instead of a full on stage play. Without a play in rehearsal this year due to covid restrictions, the stage is open and available to use for the blood drive, hence the name of this year’s event, “Back Stage Tour”.

“The first decision was to schedule the event during spring break so we could spread the event out throughout the building. We knew that would mean some people who regularly donate would be out of town, but it allowed us to increase the number of people who could attend. With the donors arriving in shifts throughout the day and only a few staff members working in each room, guests can expect plenty of room for physical distancing. This will be the largest event SAAC has hosted since the Covid pandemic started,” said SAAC’s Colleen Means.

“Traditionally this event is hosted in the SAAC Gallery, but in order to allow for maximum physical distancing, each step of the process is being hosted a different room. Guests are asked to enter through the large gallery access doors to sign-in on arrival. Registration is in the gallery, sign-up for the door prize in the lobby, waiting area in the auditorium, donation stations on the stage, refreshments in the art room, and exit out the front door. With separate doors designated for entrance and exit, the guests will follow a one-way path through the building.” It will be like donors are getting a full tour of the building and be able to get the full backstage experience – lighting, rigging, etc., as well as see behind the scenes from the actors’ point of view.

Donors are invited to make a reservation for a time-slot. Appointments are not required, but it will save time. To make an appointment in advance visit the LifeShare website –https://donor.lifeshare.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/221740. For more information call 1-800-256-4533. For assistance on the day of the Banker’s Blood Drive, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474.