FORT BRAGG, N.C - Last month, many people celebrated the holiday season by purchasing and giving gifts to their friends and Families. This month, the tradition carries over as people continue to give - this time to strangers.

January is National Blood Donor Month, a reminder to everyone to give the gift of life.
The Fort Bragg Donor Center is at the ready to support the military by collecting whole blood and platelets as part of the Armed Services Blood Program. The ASBP is a joint service program with over 20 locations across the United States and around the world.

Blood products collected by military donor centers supply not only the installation they're collected at, but also help save the lives of servicemembers stationed around the world.

"It is important to donate blood because as military we try to be self-sufficient and collect enough blood to supply our needs," said Capt. Javier Trevino, chief of Blood Services at the Fort Bragg Donor Center. "Collecting for the military, from the military, helps keep costs down. If we can't collect enough through the military blood collection system, we have to buy from outside sources."

The donor center collects both whole blood and platelets. Both products are in high demand. AB or A donors are ideal donors for platelets. People with O negative or O positive blood are always needed for whole blood donations. While some types of blood are in higher demand than others, all blood types are always needed and accepted.

Platelet donors can give every two weeks, and Soldiers can receive promotion points for the hour and a half of their time that they give along with their donation. Platelets donated at the Fort Bragg Donor Center stay local because the product is only good for five days. Platelets are used help control bleeding and are used in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Donating of whole blood only takes about an hour of the donor's time on average and whole blood donors can donate once every two months.

Spc. William Dwello, 188th Brigade Support Battalion, 18th Fires Brigade, has been donating platelets for the last three years.

"I had a friend who was injured in Afghanistan. After that, it became more important for me to do it. I give as often as I can," said Dwello.

Trevino said the center is always looking for whole blood and platelet donors.
"Blood is a perishable item. It's not like an MRE (meals-ready-to-eat) with a long storage life, we always need it," he said. "If you're scared of needles and that's what's keeping you from coming in, please have a little courage. Your donation can save up to three lives."

For information about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, call 396-9925 or visit Walk-ins are always welcome.