JEFFERSON —Every two seconds, someone in the United States will require a blood transfusion and one donation of blood can help the lives of up to three people.
That’s according to the American Red Cross, who collect 15.7 million blood donations during the 200,000 blood drives they host annually.
In Ashe County, nearly 50 people regularly donate during the Ashe Community Blood Drive that is hosted once a month at the National Guard Armory in Jefferson. Most recently, donors came out on Thursday, Oct. 15 to donate blood that will go on to help car accident victims, cancer and sickle cell disease patients and others who require blood transfusions.
“It’s valuable,” Jim Taylor, Ashe Service Delivery Unit volunteer, said. “If someone needs it, it’s an absolute necessity.”
According to the American Red Cross, an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate but less than 10 percent actually do.
Lenny Sheets attended Thursday’s blood drive and called donating the “best gift you can give.”
“Put yourself in that situation where you’re the one who needs it,” Sheets said. “Would you want someone to give then?”
Sheets first began donating approximately five years ago and admitted that he was nervous his first time in not knowing what to expect. He know donates every chance he gets.
“It’s just about helping people and doing something good,” Sheets said, “and the needle looks much scarier than it really is.”
According to Taylor, nearly a dozen Ashe Community Blood Drive volunteers help during the drive while others work throughout the month before calling those who are eligible to donate and scheduling appointments.
According to volunteers Wanda Gervasi and Iris Morphew, many donors regularly come to the Ashe Community Blood Drive.
“I think it’s great that people come and give. We have such loyal donors,” Gervasi said. “I hope people keep giving and know how important it is to give blood.”
The American Red Cross allows donors to give blood every 56 days.
Gervasi, who has been volunteering for three years, says she enjoys volunteering even though she is unable to donate blood herself.
“I just like doing what little that I can,” Gervasi said.
Each month during the Ashe Community Blood Drive, local restaurants provide food and other items for donors to enjoy after donating.
According to Taylor, Village Inn Pizza provides pizza during the summer months while Wendy’s provides chili during the winter months.
“It gives donors something to have that’s hot and fresh after they give,” Taylor said.
Ashe County Cheese and Dr. Pepper Bottling Co. also donate food and drinks for the blood drive.
Although the food is a nice treat for donors, that’s not what keeps bringing them back.
“It gives you a good feeling,” Taylor said.
Taylor was recognized in 2012 when he accomplished a lifetime goal when he reached his 25th gallon of donated blood on Sept. 20, 2012. He first donated blood when he was in his teens and became a regular blood donor in the 1960’s.
In addition to the Ashe Community Blood Drive, the American Red Cross hosts other blood drives throughout Ashe County at local churches, businesses and at Ashe County High School twice a year.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, contact Eula Blevins at 336-982-2164.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.