The city of Hinesville sponsored round two of the Battle of the Badges blood drive Friday in the Hinesville Police Department parking lot.
Donors were greeted by city employees before entering the Red Cross bloodmobile to donate. Student worker Jasmine Williams took on the role of Buddy the Blood Drop, the Red Cross mascot, to wave in potential donors.
Krystal Hart, public-relations manager for the city, said the number of donor slots was increased from 30 to 45 to accommodate those wanting to pre-register. Walk-ins also were welcomed throughout. The drive lasted from 10 a.m.-
Justin Shilling, bloodmobile supervisor, said there is an urgent need for blood.
“We are extremely low,” Shilling said. “We’re actually almost 36,000 units shy, nationwide, of where we need to be.”
He said extreme cold shut down many donor sites in the first few months of the year, impacting the already dwindling blood supply. He also stressed the importance of eligible donors returning to donate as allowed.
“We’re always looking for new donors, but 75 percent of new donors never return for some reason,” he continued. “We try to rely on returning donors, but even our returning-donor population is slimming.”
According to the Red Cross, donating blood takes six to 12 minutes.
“Everybody knows somebody that has received blood or needs blood,” Shilling said. “It really affects everybody. It’s not just self-gratification, you’re actually saving lives.”
He said donated blood typically is used within seven days of collection.
“It takes five days for it to be tested, one day to be shipped, one day to be used,” he said.
Shilling also stressed the increased need for blood during the summer, when greater numbers of motor-vehicle accidents lead to high numbers of surgeries requiring blood transfusions.
Tina Dinkins was among the 45 pre-registered donors. She said that although she was unaware of the first round of the Battle of the Badges, she planned to participate in the next two, though she doesn’t need a special reason to donate.
“I donate blood every chance I get,” Dinkins said.
Upon completing donations, donors were urged to cast a ballot for their favorite public-service outfit — Hinesville Fire Department, Hinesville Police Department, Liberty County Emergency Management Service or the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
Senior firefighter John Hass was out in support of fellow firefighters. Though the sheriff’s office beat the firefighters in the first round by three votes, Hass said he was confident in the fire department’s chances for the second round.
“I’m very proud to support the Hinesville Fire Department,” Hass said.
Friday’s blood drive was the second of four rounds in the Battle of the Badges tournament. Two more are slated later this year, though dates have yet to be determined.
The first round was sponsored by Liberty County. Sponsors for the remaining two rounds have not been announced.