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South Bostonians flock to blood drive in honor of longtime councilor James M. Kelly

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 9, 2012 09:15 AM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)

By Patrick D. Rosso, Town Correspondent

With the spirit of community and compassion, South Boston residents turned out for a blood drive at the South Boston Catholic Academy to honor a longtime public servant.

The drive, organized by the family of the late City Councilor James M. "Jim" Kelly, brought in big numbers with donors waiting up to an hour for their chance to give back to the community and pay tribute to Kelly.

“My father loved his community,” said Tommy Kelly, the former councilor's 44-year-old son. “He gave so much and we wanted to give something back to this community and honor his name.”

James Kelly, who served on the council for 23 years, died of cancer in 2007. His spirit of dedication to the neighborhood lives on, residents said.

“I had so much admiration for the man,” said South Boston native Paul McCormack. “He had so much courage and conviction."

Although McCormack admitted that he has a slight fear of needles, he said he felt compelled to turn out.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything,” he said.

In addition to honoring Kelly, the blood drive provided much-needed supplies.

“After the holidays it can be a difficult time to collect blood,” said Donna M. Morrissey, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. “The need for blood is constant and we are very grateful to everyone who comes out to help. Blood on the shelves saves lives tomorrow.”

Although James Kelly no longer walks the streets of his neighborhood, Sandra Walsh, the late councilor's 51-year-old daughter, said she hopes the event can grow and serve as a reminder of Kelly’s dedication to the community.

“He was an awesome father. Hopefully we can make his name live on and make a positive impact. I’m hoping this will be the first of many,” Walsh said.

E-mail Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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