Even though Christmas is over, the giving season is not. Locals are being asked to help give the gift of life.
Once again, WTOK is teaming up with United Blood Services for the annual Mash Bash Blood Drive. This will mark the 25th year for the event.
Last year more than 200 people donated; that was one of the highest turnouts ever. UBS officials are hopeful that this year that many or more will participate.
Tommy Vincent and James Thomas are two regular donors.
"I give because people need blood and it's the only way they can get it," says Thomas.
"I give because somebody needs the blood. Somebody's waiting on that blood," says Vincent.
On the day prior to the Mash Bash Blood Drive officials with United Blood Services are packing needed supplies with hopes that other regular donors and new ones will help give the gift of life.
"Our goal is to see 200 donors," says UBS Donor Recruitment Representative, Cheryl Reed. "We'd like to see 200 donors; we'd like to see more if possible. We need them to come out to make sure we have blood on the shelf because we're not where we need to be. We need 350 units of blood each day to operate at a normal level and that's not including if there's some type of accident or anything."
UBS officials say often people who take medicine for high blood pressure, or those who are diabetics think they cannot donate. However, because each person's case is different, Reed says that's not always true and that's why it's important for interested donors to stop by the UBS donor center or attend blood drives and find out directly from workers.
Serving approximately 66 healthcare facilities in east Mississippi and west Alabama, the UBS office in Meridian is especially in need of O negative, AB negative, and B negative donations immediately.
"I am concerned," says Reed. "With the holiday travel, we're not where we need to be stockwise. With the tornadoes and with people traveling, we don't know when accidents are going to happen. We just want to make sure that the community has a safe and adequate supply of blood on the shelf in case of an emergency."
The UBS office in Meridian serves healthcare facilities as far away as Columbus and near Hattiesburg in Mississippi and others stretching to Demopolis, Alabama. Thursday's Mash Bash Blood Drive will be held in the Temple Theatre ballroom downtown from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. All donors will receive a free t-shirt. Plus, a drawing for a $50 gift card will be held each hour.