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Making the ultimate local impact
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If the new year hasn’t quite served you a flavor of anything new yet, here’s an idea to consider: give the gift of blood.

For those who are regular blood donors, this isn’t a novel notion of course, but I hope you’ve been planning on carrying that over throughout 2014 as well. However, for those of you who are eligible and able but have never quite entertained the idea before, I encourage you to join me in donating blood for the first time this year.

Donating blood becomes all the more critical in light of the fact that January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, yet recently released statements from the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers indicate that the nation is in the midst of a considerable and concerning blood shortage. The American Red Cross website states that “above all other times of the year, it’s the month [January] that presents the most challenges in recruiting people to give blood.”

And as more and more blood centers put out earnest pleas for keeping up the blood supply, it’s important to bear in mind the magnitude of an impact one can make. By current calculations, every two seconds an individual in this nation needs blood, and the availability of that blood rests on the regular donations of the under 10 percent of the estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population that is eligible to donate.

Why is there such a dismal turnout among eligible folks at the blood donation stations? Most likely, some of it derives from unfamiliarity about the general process, leading to unnecessary qualms. The other half of it, however, might stem from uncertainty on how to get started. That’s why a group of students and I have organized a blood drive set for Monday at Turlock High School, where an incredible number of our peers have already expressed interest in donating blood for the first time. The level of enthusiasm I have witnessed there for making an impact gives me faith that it can also be replicated throughout our community

After all, haven’t we just emerged from the holiday season, when the sense of “give and it shall be given unto you” seems to constitute the centerpiece of common thinking? The spirit of the season warms us up to giving, as canned food drives, toy drives, and fun and festive service opportunities abound. But when the curtain closes on the holidays, it’s easy to become a bit lax. Engrossed in our newly-fashioned goals and ramped-up agendas, the notion of pausing, reflecting, and giving can sometimes get put on the periphery.

The holidays may be but a memory now, but the senses of warmth, compassion, and humanity that permeated that time can still be retained. To help you get started, the Turlock Delta Blood Bank, located at 655 E. Hawkeye Ave., is open 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays. The Turlock BloodSource is located at 1040 W. Monte Vista Ave. and is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at varying times depending on whether one is donating blood or platelets. Suffice it to say, given the plethora of opportunities, I encourage healthy and able Turlockers to join me in making the invaluable, lifesaving local impact throughout this new year.

  — Henna Hundal is a high school student and resident of Turlock. She writes a monthly column on matters related to youth and our society.