Red Cross adds extra blood drives


Staff Writer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross is usually the first agency called to provide relief and help people.

The Frederick E. Turnage Chapter of the American Red Cross consists of about 20 volunteers. A few of them are currently providing aid and assistance in areas in Eastern North Carolina impacted by Hurricane Florence, said Andrea Bent, volunteer coordinator for the Greenville region that includes the Frederick E. Turnage Chapter. 

Several other volunteers came out for a Red Cross meet-and-greet session Wednesday at Braswell Memorial Library that Bent initiated to allow the volunteers to get to know one another and exchange numbers in case someone might need someone else to cover for them during an emergency call.

Red Cross officials said the American Red Cross is providing help and hope as people recover. The Red Cross is working around the clock to provide safe shelter and comfort for hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the hurricane as the storm is still bringing extremely dangerous flooding to the affected region and getting help into some areas will be difficult for some time.

Bent said having volunteers in place for natural disasters like the hurricane is important, but the need for volunteers is urgent throughout the year.

“People should volunteer regardless of the hurricane so they will be prepared for when we have times like this,” she said. “We don’t want to have volunteers only when a natural disaster happens because it’s more difficult to train people on the spot. Our volunteers are trained in all types of areas because we have house fires, people get hurt and all kinds of stuff happens throughout the year all the time, not just when we have a hurricane.”

Red Cross officials said more than 170 blood drives have been canceled through the week due to the hurricane, resulting in more than 4,600 uncollected blood and platelet donations. The Red Cross expects more cancellations in the coming weeks and months due to the flooding. 

Wanda Alford, a longtime Rocky Mount city employee, has been involved with the local Red Cross for more than 30 years. Alford has served on the board of the Red Cross and spent about 20 years as the committee chairman for the city of Rocky Mount’s blood drive.

Alford said donating blood is an unselfish act as the Red Cross is urging people in unaffected areas to make an appointment to give blood.

“It’s a selfless thing to do because you can’t make it and you can’t buy it,” she said. “I had cancer and I know there are people that have cancer that need blood. You can also have someone involved in a car wreck and the family wants to give blood. They think they can go and stick out their arm in the hospital, but you can’t do that. You have to get it from our blood sources, so it’s important and something everybody can try to do because we need as much as we can get because people always need blood.”

Hurricane relief blood drives are scheduled to be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church in Rocky Mount,  from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and from 3 to 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at St. Paul United Methodist Church.