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Giving blood in a time of need

TJC hosting 9th annual ’50 Gallon Challenge’ blood drive

Tyler Junior College is partnering with Carter Blood Care for the ninth year to host the “50 Gallon Challenge” blood drive. This year’s challenge began on March 30 and will continue daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday, April 3. They are challenging anyone who can to come out and contribute to help save lives.

As of right now, there is a shortage of blood in the U.S.  TJC Director of Student Life Lauren Tyler encourages people to participate in this blood drive.

“You may or may not know a large portion of donors usually come from students. High School students and college students make up a large portion of donors,” Tyler said. “With schools being closed, of course, the need is very high for blood donation.”  

Due to the recent Coronavirus outbreak, certain details about the event have changed from previous years. Carter Blood Care will have two mobile units that will be set up each day at the corner of Fifth Street and Baxter Avenue on the TJC main campus and at TJC West, located at 1530 South Southwest Loop 323. 

“One donation can save up to three lives,” Tyler said. She also added this is “something to make you feel good right now in such a time where we feel so out of control.”

During these times, there is an extra sense of urgency to stay protected and safe. TJC wants everyone to know that donating blood remains a safe practice and the first line of protection for the blood supply is the routine screening of donors. The screening processes includes asking potential donors if they are healthy and feeling well on the day of donation as well as screening for temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and hemoglobin levels. 

 “Luckily, blood centers and blood banks are already very sterile places that follow a lot of precautions,” Tyler said. 

The TJC website also mentions that the Carter Blood Care personnel are also taking special precautions for social distancing and hygiene, such as limiting the number of people who can be on the mobile unit at one time, having donors fill out their check-in forms while sitting in their vehicles and providing extra sanitizing of surfaces and materials.

If anyone is experiencing symptoms of illness, including cold or flu, they should stay home continuing to practice social distancing and not give blood. 

Appointments are not necessary, but the check-in process can be expedited for potential donors. Complete an online screening on the day that works best for you to donate by going to carterbloodcare.org and clicking the USE QUICKSCREEN button on the homepage. 

The blood drive is not just for TJC students; it is open to anyone in the community. Everyone who can is encouraged to come out and give. 

“We definitely need the community to come out and give in any way they can,” Tyler said. 

Prizes will be given away daily. Each donor will receive a free event shirt and be entered to win daily prizes. 

Carter Blood Care is also providing two $500 academic scholarships. Other prizes include passes to the Ornelas Health and Physical Education Center summer camps and the Center for Earth Space Science Education.  

On Wednesday and Thursday, they will give away a voucher for a free Pokey O’s ice cream sandwich at TJC’s main campus and a Lupita’s taco at TJC West.

For those not able to give blood but who would still like to be a part of the 50 Gallon challenge, there are volunteer opportunities. To sign up to volunteer, visit https://signup.com/go/wXBUkTh. Volunteers will be passing out prizes and T-shirts, greeting donors, among other things. 

Follow the event on Facebook and invite others at https://www.facebook.com/events/225724185276810/.

For more information, call the TJC Center for Student Life and Involvement at 903-510-2797 or email Tyler at ltyl@tjc.edu.

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