LUMBERTON — James Oxendine volunteers much of his time to serving others through the Red Cross, all while sporting a big smile, and an overflowing amount of passion for the organization.
“You can see the passion that he has for the American Red Cross,” said Pat McEachern, a senior volunteer who routinely works with Oxendine. “He loves doing the blood drives … He’s very compassionate, and he’s one person that you know he’s going to give you a hug when you see him. When you see Mr. James, you’re going to get a hug.”
Oxendine has been the volunteer administrative lead for Lumberton office of the Eastern Sandhills Chapter of the Red Cross since January. He is responsible for coordinating blood drives and community educational events for the Red Cross and making sure that enough volunteers attend the events.
Although he has volunteer responsibilities outside of blood drives, they give him a certain amount of satisfaction because the blood donated saves lives.
“I go to blood drives because I know how vital they are, and how important it is,” said Oxendine, who lives in Lumberton. “I feel real obligated to be a part of the blood drives, and I know that we are doing something that the community needs, and therefore I feel like I’m there for a reason.”
Oxendine was recently presented the 2016 Bio-Medical Services Volunteer of the Year for the chapter, which is given to the volunteer with the most hours at blood drives for the year. He is also an All-Star Award winner for volunteering 100 hours between Jan. 30 and June 30.
But Oxendine said his greatest accomplishment has been streamlining the canteen that provides food and drinks to blood donors, and placing it directly behind the nurse’s area, which he said allows his volunteers to be more helpful to those giving blood and the nurses on hand.
“James brings a positive can-do attitude, a passion and an opportunity for himself, as well as others to make a difference in our communities,” said Tracey Kohut, Oxendine’s immediate supervisor and volunteer specialist for the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina. “We are honored and grateful for his leadership in our Lumberton office.”
Oxendine began volunteering for the Red Cross in November 2014 after moving back to his hometown of Lumberton.
“I moved back home in 2009 because my sister was taking care of my mom, and she didn’t have any backup. And I was coming down constantly back and forth, so I moved home … Terry, who was the supervisor for the office, lived across the street from my sister and his job was to recruit new volunteers. He came over and wanted to talk to me, so he asked my sister and he came to talk to me. So I went in and talked to him, and the next thing I know I was working.”
Oxendine retired from the New Hanover County Department of Social Services in 2007 after 26 years as a business manager. He said volunteering is just a continuation of a love to serve others.
“What I gain from (the drives) is meeting people who have a goal to give back and to serve and contribute. All of us are there to contribute and give our services in any way that we can,” said Oxendine. “I feel more invigorated, and anxious to get up and go every day because I have an obligation. I have to know what is going on at the Red Cross, and know that everything is going to be fine.”
Another senior volunteer, Bertha Graham said that Oxendine’s hard work to coordinate the blood drives makes things easier for the 30 volunteers under him, and allows health professionals to focus on administering the drive.
“He has to be the one who comes in before we do. The blood drive started at 10 (a.m.), but for him it started around 8 (a.m.), he had to come and check out the place and get it ready,” said Graham. “He travels a lot to keep up to date on things, so that he can make sure we are up to date on things.”
In addition to attending blood drives and other events, Oxendine spends about 16 hours a week in the office.
He plans to dial back the number of hours in the office, but will continue to work hard for the community with one goal in mind.
“My goal right now is to recruit and work on building my volunteer pool. I would like to see a large group of volunteers that we can pull upon for whatever we need,” said Oxendine. “I want people that want to be there, and are looking for something to do.”
James Oxendine and fellow volunteer Pat McEachern wait for blood drive participants at a sign-up table.
Jack Frederick is an intern for The Robesonian.