Blood donors roll up sleeves

Jul. 25, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Sanford citizens gathered at the Central Carolina Community College gymnasium Thursday morning to help alleviate shortfalls of blood donations facing the American Red Cross.

“I donate every opportunity I get,” said Yolanda Leach, a student at the college. “It’s needed, and I want to help save lives.”

Red Cross spokeswoman Natividad Lewis said the organization sees a decline in donations during the months of July and August that can lead to severe shortages.

“There’s always a need for blood,” Lewis said. “All year round, there’s always a need for blood. We know that during the summer months, July and August especially, it is difficult to ensure enough donors roll up their sleeves. The shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the next few weeks.”

Mike Neal, CCCC Director of Student Activities and Student Services, has been promoting blood drives in Lee County since he began working at the college in the fall of 1990. He said he has donated almost 14 gallons throughout his life.

“Somebody has to do it,” Neal said. “There is a need, and somebody has to do it. Somebody has to, so why not me?”

Neal said he believes the most important letter in CCCC’s name is the third C — Community. He said the college hoped to reach out not only to students, but to everyone in Sanford and Lee County.

“The vast majority of people here today are not students,” Neal said. “We have some students, and I even saw a few graduates, which was great. But we really are about the community.”

Julia Cheek, team supervisor of the blood collection operation collecting donations from the college, said she was impressed with Sanford citizens’ commitment to donating time and blood to the Red Cross.

“Lee County is great,” she said. “People are good about giving in this county.”

Neal said most people have a good reason to give. His mother had heart problems and constantly needed blood transfusions. He said most everyone knows someone, either a friend or family member, who has needed blood in the past.

“It reinforces the need,” Neal said. “That blood needed to be there when [my mother] needed it, and it needs to be there today.”

Neal said he believes the reason many people don’t donate is because they have never been asked. He said signs and advertisements don’t necessarily draw people all the way in, and that word of mouth is the best way to spread awareness.

According to the Red Cross website, 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate, but less than 10 percent actually do.

Lewis listed a number of reasons donations go down during the summer months. She said many people go on vacation, and schools, which account for around 20 percent of donations during the school year, are out of session.

As for how to increase participation, Lewis suggested “spreading the word through social media, through our local community and local news coverage.”

“There are always blood drives out there,” he added.

Cheek said a blood drive could be found seven days a week, and Neal said that when he first started with the college, CCCC hosted two blood drives a year. Now, the college puts on six.

“After you’ve donated, eight weeks later, pretty much as soon as you’re eligible to donate again, there will almost guaranteed be another drive coming up within a week or two,” Neal said. “The next drive will be on Sept. 23.”

Lewis encouraged citizens to go to redcrossblood.org, where they can enter their zip code or city and find a blood drive close to them.

“Roll up a sleeve and donate,” she said. “One donation can help up to three people, so help us out during the summer. Get out, find out what blood drives are in your area and help donate.”

UPCOMING BLOOD DRIVES

• Community Blood Center of the Carolinas will hold a drive on July 31 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Central Carolina Hospital, 1135 Carthage St., Sanford. Call (704) 972-4700 or go to www.carolinadonor.org to make an appointment.

• The Red Cross will hold the following drives in the area:

July 25, 2:30-7 p.m. at Walmart, 3310 N.C. Highway 87 South, Sanford.

Aug. 7, 3:30-8 p.m. at Sanford Church of God, 2105 Pathway Drive, Sanford.

Aug. 8, 1:30-6 p.m. at Belk, 1065 Spring Lane, Sanford.

Aug. 12, 1:30-6 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 202 Summit Drive, Sanford.

Aug. 12, 2-7 p.m. at Goldston Baptist Church, 190 N. Church St., Goldston.

Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information.