By By Titus Ledbetter III, Belvior EagleNovember 27, 2013
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (NOV. 27) -- The Fort Belvoir community is invited to participate in the third annual Army-Navy Blood Donor Challenge, sponsored by the Armed Services Blood Program, that runs through Dec. 13.
The blood donor center at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is open Monday - Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located on the lower level of the Oaks Pavilion in Room 237. Both appointments and walk-in donations are welcome. The blood challenge started Nov. 20 and is designed to help people get ready for the Army-Navy football game on Dec. 14.
Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson encourages community members to donate blood to ASBP.
"The most significant reason is that blood that goes to the Armed Services Blood Program goes to servicemembers," he said. "Any shortfalls that we have in blood supply that we need, we have to go out and buy. So it is real important to support our program when you can."
ASBP is the official blood program of the U.S. military. Organization representatives are always looking for new donors who have never given blood before because the military donors are frequently deployed, limiting donations. ASBP provides blood to deployed servicemembers, military hospitals, ships and medics on the front lines.
Both servicemembers and civilians can donate blood during the donor challenge, according to Donna Onwona, a public affairs specialist for ASBP. Donors should have a nutritious breakfast before donating blood and drink a lot of water to ensure they are hydrated, she said.
The blood center at the installation's hospital will not be open for donations today or Thursday, Onwona said. People should also bring an ID card when donating blood. The service that collects the most blood during the challenge will receive a trophy at the Dec. 14 game, Onwona said.
"The idea was to have this challenge preceding the Army-Navy football game," she said. "It also happens to be a very challenging time of year where donors start to become distracted by holidays and they sometimes forget to donate."
Navy Cmdr. Jessica Hayford, a pathologist at the hospital, donated blood on Monday. She said that through her work she has noticed that there is sometimes a shortage of blood in the winter. She is impressed with the work of ASBP and appreciated the opportunity to give blood.
"It is something that is easy to do," Hayford said. "It takes a little bit of time."
Spc. Adam Secor, a nutritionist at the hospital, said it felt great to donate blood to ASBP on Monday because he knows that it will go to another servicemember.
"It makes me feel awesome," he said. "I'm enjoying it. If somebody less fortunate gets my blood, then I know that I am doing a service."
People can also donate blood at the Scales Army Reserve Center at 9020 Gunston Road, Dec. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Donors can make appointments to give blood at both locations by visiting militarydonor.com. They should use the sponsor code "FTBelvoir" to set up a time at the hospital and the code "FortBelvoir" to make an appointment at Scales Army Reserve Center.
"As we approach the holidays, it is so important that we can ensure that we have blood products ready and available for ill and injured Soldiers, and our veterans, and their dependents that we care for," Onwona said. "During the holiday season, giving blood is probably the greatest gift that anybody can give."