FORSYTH — The American Red Cross is taking advantage of the shopping season to try to keep up with the constant need for fresh blood, which is used to help patients suffering from diseases such as cancer and victims of accidents.
Stephen Massey, a Millikin University sophomore, volunteered to give blood in Hickory Point Mall on Saturday.
He said the Red Cross called him a few days earlier to invite him to the blood drive. He first became a donor when the Red Cross came to Sangamon Valley High School, where he was a student.
“I’m O negative. That’s a very rare blood type,” said Massey, a health and fitness major at Millikin. “An O negative person can donate to all blood types. I feel like I’m helping out.”
Massey volunteered to donate twice the minimum, to be a double donor. He spent about an hour at the mall while the Red Cross workers received his donation.
One donation can help save up to three lives, said Red Cross spokeswoman Marci Manley. The demand for blood is about 15,000 pints a day nationwide.
“We are always available to provide blood donation opportunities,” Manley said, adding the group relies heavily on businesses and other sponsors to provide venues.
Jay Horvitz, the mobile unit assistant of the Red Cross crew and truck driver, said the workers are not at malls often. During his one year as a full-time worker with the organization, the most common venue has been high schools.
He believes the blood drives are popular with students because they have a strong incentive.
“They get out of class,” Horvitz said.
The Red Cross crew that was at the mall Saturday is based in Peoria. The crew travels widely, conducting blood drives throughout Central and Northern Illinois, as well as parts of Iowa and Missouri.
“All the blood gets used in this region,” Horvitz said.