WHO HE IS
Gene Sansbury, longtime volunteer for the American Red Cross and owner of The Biscuit House — a landmark breakfast stop on Bluff Road due to close in February 2010.
WHAT HE HAS DONE
Sansbury has led numerous blood drives and fund-raisers for the Red Cross over the years from the back room of the small building fronting the State Farmers Market.
He began holding the drives in 1996, a few years after he took over the business from previous owners, Hal Williams and Jim Fitzgerald.
“I wanted to be more involved in the community,” says Sansbury, who was a regular blood donor. “I chose the Red Cross in particular because they do so much. They have so many lifesaving programs and anytime you have a disaster, they are the first in.”
Sansbury started with one to two blood drives a year; they soon grew to six.
“I actually got a little burned out there for awhile,” he says. But after taking what amounted to a two-year break, Sansbury resumed the drives earlier this year and even began selling T-shirts to raise money for local disaster-relief efforts.
“To make it easy we said, $20 gets you a T-shirt. All the money goes to the Red Cross and we still have plenty left,” he says.
As of 2007, Sansbury had led 55 blood drives and brought in 2,500 pints of blood. And Lauren Way, public-relations manager for the American Red Cross Central South Carolina Chapter, says Sansbury has done more than that.
“He’s raised a considerable amount of money as well,” says Way, who doesn’t have the exact number but says it is estimated to be more than $30,000. “Also, if anyone wrote a check for him in years past, the donation would be noted under that person’s name and not Gene’s or the Biscuit House,” said Way in an e-mail.
THE FINAL DRIVE
With the fate of The Biscuit House up in the air, what’s to become of the “back room” blood drives?
After receiving an eviction notice from USC in April (USC took ownership of the building after purchasing the Farmers Market property), Sansbury decided to put the business up for sale.
“I’ll be 61 next year and I’m not interested in pumping that much money into it. I’m hoping I can get someone who will want to keep it as a neighborhood business.”
In the meantime, Sansbury’s most recent effort — aptly named “The Final Drive” — raised $5,000 and brought in 79 pints of blood. And as far as what he’ll do after The Biscuit House?
“I’m working with USC’s career center to see what I’d be good at,” he says. “Basically, I’m looking for a job.”
Until then, Sansbury says he has one final goal he’d like to meet.
“I’d like to reach the 100-pint level myself. I’m at about 75 pints now. If I can go another four or five years, I might can do it.”
For more information about volunteer opportunities with the American Red Cross, call (803) 540-1222.
Additional volunteer opportunities in the area:
RIVERBANKS ZOO: Seeks volunteers to assist with Brew at the Zoo, Aug. 1. Looking for individuals to assist with setup, sign-in, glass distribution, ID checking, pouring or take-down. (803) 779-8717 ext. 1108.
VICTORY JUNCTION AND CAPITAL SENIOR CENTER: Seeking volunteers to help cut, stuff and sew teddy bears for campers at Victory Junction, a camp for children with severe medical problems, through July 31. (803) 779-1971
11TH CIRCUIT JUVENILE ARBITRATION PROGRAM: Seeks volunteers to work with Solicitor Donnie Myers’ office conducting arbitration hearings with first-time offenders. Will be conducting training sessions beginning in September. Must be at least 21, have a high school diploma and no criminal record. Information: (803) 785-8355.
STATE MUSEUM: Seeks volunteers to help in every department: research, gift shop, school groups and exhibits. For more information, call (803) 898-4912 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
COOPERATIVE MINISTRY: Seeks furniture donations to help supply homes of families living in area shelters. Drop off at 3821 W. Beltline Boulevard or call to schedule pick up (803) 799-3853 ext. 312.
AIDS BENEFIT FOUNDATION OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Seeks volunteers to help with programs and events. (803) 254-6644; www.schivaidscouncil.org
KEEP THE MIDLANDS BEAUTIFUL: Seeks volunteers for Midlands Makeovers/community cleanups. (803) 733-1139; www.keepthemidlandsbeautiful.com
CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK: Seeks volunteers for variety of programs, including resource management, visitor services, facility maintenance, special events. 100 National Park Road, Hopkins. (803) 647-3974; www.nps.gov/cong