SPRING HILL — Elsie Taylor took it as her mission to promote blood donations. Last year, the volunteer organizer led a drive that netted 36 units of blood that helped save 108 lives in Hernando County, blood bank records show.
It was her 11th, and final, blood drive. Taylor died Feb. 20 at age 72 after a three-year battle with several cancers.
Her mission, however, will continue, thanks to her friends and coworkers at H & R Block, where she worked for 21 years at the agency's office at Mariner Crossing, 4203 Mariner Blvd.
The Elsie Taylor Memorial Blood Drive to benefit LifeSouth Community Blood Center will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Mariner Crossing location. Organizers hope it will become an annual event,
Taylor first helped to organize a blood drive at her church, First Methodist on Spring Hill Drive, said H & R marketing director Linda McCabe. When she learned that a donation there saved a baby's life, she was hooked.
So, she organized blood donation drives at her place of business, and corporate and employees signed on to the effort. "It became so important to the community," said McCabe. "She was an advocate of blood services."
At Tuesday's drive, an additional bus will be available and refreshments will be offered.
"Elsie was a lifelong believer in the true gift of life, donating blood,'' said McCabe. "She organized countless blood drives, and although she could no longer donate due to her being stricken with leukemia, Elsie continued to advocate the need to whomever would listen.
"The blood drives we (H & R Block) have held over the past several years have netted hundreds of pints of blood, all due to Elsie's relentless dedication," she said.
H & R Block employees were so taken up in Taylor's devotion to community health that it led to Diaper Drive for the Healthy Start Coalition, donating diapers to mothers who can't afford them. Last year, the local effort collected and gave away 3,800 diapers, McCabe said.
"Elsie was so wide-reaching, so wide-giving,'' she said. "She had more gumption than anyone I'd ever met."
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org