Summers are usually the most difficult time to attract blood donors, but Edinburg PD's annual Night Out Against Crime event has emerged as one of the most successful public blood drives in the Valley, according to United Blood Services.
More than 6,000 people attended last year's Night Out event, of which 19 people donated. The number may seem small, UBS representatives say, but the donations amounted to at least 57 people receiving life saving blood in the Valley.
One pint of blood for every donation can help three lives, according to UBS.
"Last year was extremely successful. We collected more than we anticipated, and they (Edinburg PD) invited us to go back again this year," said Jessica Dominguez, UBS donor-recruiter, and representative.
"The (Edinburg) Crimestoppers are very dedicated to the cause, so when they're out there they really set the environment for it. They were helping us recruit, and asking people to donate," Dominguez said. "They work wonderfully with us. Every hour they would come on stage and say how much we have collected. This year our goal is to be able to get 20 donors. I know they have been promoting it like crazy so that's basically what we are going to do. Hopefully even surpass those donors to be able to help our Valley hospitals."
UBS attempts to hold at least six blood drives a day at any one of the 17 hospitals in the region. The organization says it needs a bare minimum of 175 pints of blood per day to assist those in need.
When summer arrives, UBS temporarily loses the support of local schools. High school students and faculty comprise about 45 percent of all blood donated, according to UBS.
"We try to have major events, and we really fall back on our law enforcement to set an example and help out," Dominguez said. "Our cause is to be able to focus on saving lives for our community…it's just reaching out to the community and letting them know that there is so much we need to give back, and this is just another way to do it."
Edinburg Crimestoppers will hold it's 15th Annual National Night Out against crime and drug prevention event on Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at Municipal Park from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
National Night Out, which is sponsored by the National Association Town Watch (NATW) and co-sponsored by Crime Stoppers, will involve over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world. In all, over 37 million people are expected to participate in “America’s Night Out Against Crime”.
Speaking about the benefits of blood donation goes hand in hand with the Edinburg's focus to practice safety and unity within the community, according to PD spokespersons.
"The blood drive is part of national night out, to help UBS in raising those numbers, but a lot of people don't donate blood," said Edinburg police officer Balde Gomez, spokesperson for the event.
"We want National Night Out to be one of the biggest times for donation We are challenging people in our community to join us, and donate blood to the blood drive and help us raise that number," Gomez said.
UBS asks that potential donors have something to eat beforehand, that they are well hydrated throughout the day, and they have a picture id. Donors 16 years of age or younger can only donate with parent permission.