Red Cross, Falcons drive to save lives

By Laura McMillan

Few vacationers care to think of the worst case scenario while enjoying their long weekend. But if that unthinkable but all too common accident were to land the family in the hospital, most people trust that other good citizens have done their part in donating the blood necessary to save lives.

The group comprised of those who are expecting somebody else to take responsibility for the community blood supply is dangerously large, according to the Red Cross.

Candice Gulden, the Communications Director of the American Red Cross Blood Services Southern Region, is concerned that genuinely good people may simply forget that the need for donations is there. "Just because we're on vacation doesn't mean that people aren't in the hospital," Gulden said.

The high school and college student demographic normally makes up 18% of donors. The semester-long absenteeism of the generous group, along with the forgetfulness of vacationers, decreases blood donations by 20 percent during the summer.

That decrease occurs in a state that does not meet its own needs on a regular basis. In the last fiscal year, Gulden said that the American Red Cross Blood Services Southern Region had 55,000 pints of blood shipped to Georgia hospitals from other states.

The sever local shortage cannot be filled by other states at this time because of a national shortage. The demand can only be supplied with local, voluntary donations.

During the weekend of August 6 and 7 from noon to 5 p.m., the American Red Cross will team up with the Atlanta Flacons' Women's Association to provide an easy and accessible opportunity for everyone to give blood and get a free T-shit all in the comfort of the local area donor center or shopping mall.

Two of the 13 metro area locations that will be equipped to take blood on that weekend are located in Clayton and Henry Counties: in Jonesboro at Mundy's Mill High School on Fayettville Rd., and in Stockbridge and the South Metro Donor Center on Southcrest Pkwy.

"We tend to try to do something to call attention to the fact that we're having a blood drive," Gulden said. Blood drives are held on most holiday weekends and often involve incentives.

According to Gulden, the annual drive sponsored by the Atlanta Falcons' Women's Association is usually very popular because of a cheerleader presence and the possibility for donors to win a drawing for several prizes including Falcons tickets and a signed helmet.

"People like T-shirts," Gulden said, indicating the previous success of such incentives. She was hopeful that with the combined efforts of the organization and the team, the American Red Cross will meet its August 6 and 7 weekend donation goal of 797 pints.