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The Daily Tar Heel

Halloween Provides Backdrop for Blood Drive

Vampires, cowboys, a dalmatian, a bearded lady and a blood drop met Halloween at Orange Water and Sewage Authority to draw blood from residents.

OWASA held its fifth annual Halloween blood drive from 9:30 Tuesday morning until 3 p.m.

Sandy Beckham, who donned a violet jumper, white stockings and a purple kerchief to accentuate his beard, said that OWASA had been active with the Red Cross for 18 years. Beckham is an engineering technician at OWASA.

"We like saving lives," he said. "We've been doing it about 18 years. Back in the '80s we decided we need to do something for the community and began holding blood drives."

He said that first they held one drive a year in April, but that now blood drives occur every four months at OWASA.

Inside the building, tables of snack food were set for donors. Staff and donors munched and chatted.

In addition, I Love New York Pizza donated pizza, and Ben & Jerry's and Chick-Fil-A provided coupons to increase incentives to donate blood.

"I Love New York Pizza donates every time," Beckham said. "It is greatly appreciated."

I Love New York Pizza participates in many causes in the community, said Manager Joseph Mangione.

"We live in the community and try to give back to it as much as we can," Mangione said.

Staffing problems delayed the drive a day, which Beckham said explained the slightly sluggish turnout.

"I wish people would start caring more for other people and not be scared of a single needle because this needle prick could save someone's life," Beckham said.

Casey Copp, director of support services for the Orange County Chapter of the Red Cross, said that there is an increased need for donations.

"Contributions have gone up in the past year, but they do not meet hospital demand, which is up 10 to 12 percent," Copp said.

Copp suggested that changes in the population and Red Cross procedure account for the shortage.

"The population is aging, and the baby boomers are creating a greater need," Copp said. "Furthermore, in this area, the population has increased.

"Also, donor guidelines have changed. Iron rating is tested from a sample taken from the finger, instead of the ear, and typically registers lower, which means that more potential donors are turned away."

Copp said that this would happen less frequently if donors would eat before heading to the bloodmobile.

Copp said that Orange County is a member of a region composed of 80 counties across North Carolina and extending into South Carolina and Tennessee. There are 37 regions nationwide, she said.

She said that the University plays a vital part for the Orange County Chapter.

"Half the blood we receive is from UNC students," she said. "Frankly, they are healthy.

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"Donating blood is the easiest way to be a hero, and every healthy person should. When you give one pint of blood you can help three people by giving red blood cells, plasma and platelets."

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The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for November 20, 2023