Red Cross Hosts Holiday Blood Drive Across Nebraska

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Grand Island, NE The American Red Cross said it's slow time of year is November through January, so they are trying to raise as much blood as they can now.

The Red Cross is hosting it's annual Holiday Blood Drive in an attempt to gain donors during a time of year when they usually see a drop in blood donations. :10

Blood drives began in Kearney, Hastings, and Grand Island Friday morning wrapped up in the late afternoon.

When the drive in Grand Island began, there were already people waiting to be able to donate their pint of blood. More and more donors continued to come in which is good news for the Red Cross.

They recognize the holiday season is busy for people, but it shouldn't be too busy to try to help those in need.

"We know that people are busy, they're otherwise engaged and, of course, we also have seasonal illnesses and so we know that that takes donors away from coming in to give. So patients don't get a break from needing blood products and so this is an opportunity for us to really make sure that we have a sufficient supply so we can continue to meet those needs," said April Oppliger, a spokesperson for the Red Cross.

Oppliger spoke with many of the donors who came into the Grand Island YWCA Friday.

Some of the donors are people who knew 16-year old Jacob Peters and are donating in his memory.

Some donors say they have other personal reasons to give.

"I have been donating blood for quite a while. I know that there's always a need whether it's surgeries or accidents or what have you," said Melissa Hoggatt from Grand Island. "But actually my main reason is I do have a son who is active in the army and they are always needing blood so I think of him every time I donate blood."

Others say it's part of a family tradition.

Wood River resident Kevin Harders said, "My dad was coming and he brought mom with me and Kurt as well, my little brother so we kind of made it a family affair for the day. That's kind of nice especially this time of the year to give back for the holiday season."

Red Cross officials say these donations are so important to hospital patients.

"You never know when the next accident or emergency might happen. Every 2 seconds someone in America needs blood and so it's extremely important to make sure that we have those blood products," said Oppliger.

The Red Cross began its Holiday Blood Drive throughout Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney with a goal of 150 Pints of blood raised.

"All-in-all, the donors that come out and help us today could potentially be touching the lives of as many as 450 people," said Oppliger.

In total, 119 pints of lifesaving blood were collected, 27 pints in Hastings, 42 pints in Kearney and 50 pints in Grand Island.

That is especially important when considering the Red Cross is closed on major holidays.

Oppliger said, "Each day in the Mid-West blood services region, we collect about 500 pints of blood and so when we are closed, that's 500 pints of blood that we didn't collect but we are still obligated to provide those blood products to patients."

One donor recognized what this blood means to those who need it.

Harders said, "Oh, I know there's a lot people that need it a lot more than I do right now. So it's nice to give back. I know if I had an accident or if I needed it, it would be nice to know there's somebody else there that was giving it for me."

There is one message to anyone who missed Friday's drives.

Oppliger said, "There is an opportunity to still give this holiday season so please resolve to give blood whether it be at this year or in the new year."

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