G I V E B L O O D ! ! !

Think of that feeling you get when you are at a MLB game, or a local high school football game. It is good to be in a crowd with others who share your feelings. After all, like dogs, we are pack animals. Some of us get this feeling in church, family reunions, or simply spending time away from our jobs with the people we work beside all week. Remember the television show, “Cheers?” We all wanted to go where everyone knows our name, and have the crowd shout, “Norm,” or our name as we entered.

I have found such a place, and I am highly motivated to go there regularly. I found it years ago when I was unemployed, living on unemployment compensation, and feeling like I was not a contributing member of society. I found a place where I was always welcome, where I was around people like myself who shared the same values, and a place where I knew I was doing good for society – at a Red Cross blood drive.

It is hard to conceive of a room full of people who sacrifice for one reason; people who get nothing from that sacrifice, and who do it to help someone they will never meet. A room full of strangers who will probably never become acquainted with each other, but they all know that they share an unselfish, virtually anonymous, motivation to do the right thing, at least once.

Give it a try. We all have had inoculations in our lives. The needle stick is a small price to pay for the good you will do for children suffering from leukemia, victims of accidents, and those people enduring life threatening surgeries.

You arrive at the site, read a few pages that tell you about the process. Meet privately with a Red Cross volunteer, your iron level is checked and your blood pressure is measured (once mine was too high, so we waited a few minutes, tried again, and it was fine), they take your temperature, you answer some questions on a laptop computer, you lie down, feel a poke, ten minutes later you get cranberry juice, and crackers, while you small talk with persons who like you, try to hide their nervousness at doing something so unusual.

But it is all worth it for the people who get your blood – and for you! You will go home that day, knowing that for a little while you did something right, not for you but for that unseen stranger who needs you. You will have been given one of life’s few opportunities to participate in good for good’s sake, in the presence of a room full of other people who share your compassion. It is one of those great times in life when you will know and feel that it is better to give than to receive.

You can have your questions about donating blood answered at their website, http://www.redcross.org/blood, or by calling 314-516-2800.

Please try at least once.

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