Donate blood today

The news cycle continues to percolate with the aftermath of last weekend's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Both incidents remain under investigation; we'll have more to say about them (and the political furor they've prompted) later.

Right now, we want to focus on one particular segment of the Texas story.

A few hours after Saturday's first report of an active shooter at the Walmart adjacent to the Cielo Vista Mall, city and police officials in El Paso sent urgent tweets asking local residents to donate blood for the victims. Given the scale of the carnage — the death toll rose to 22 as of midday Monday; more than two dozen people were hurt — the need must have been enormous.

People responded — according to USA Today, more than 240 units of blood were donated by the end of the day — and have continued to do so.

We have no idea how much blood was on hand out there before the mass donations. However, we know how much is banked here — at one point recently, according to a blood drive organizer, the local hospitals had only a two-day supply — and it's downright scary.

God forbid that something like this ever befalls Gadsden and Etowah County, whether from a hate-filled or crazed nimrod with a gun, severe weather or some other kind of disaster. (The explosion 43 years ago at a service station that killed Gadsden's fire chief and two firefighters and injured several others comes to mind.)

We're certain that should it happen, local residents will line up to donate blood just like the people of El Paso. However, why not be proactive? Why not ensure the local medical centers have a little margin to work with?

Blood donations always ebb during the summer months, when people are more interested in going places and having fun. Well, technically summer still has a few weeks left on the calendar, but school (started) on Wednesday and that's generally viewed as the ending point.

Why not mark the occasion by giving blood at one of several upcoming drives (10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 13 at McGuffey Health Care and the Gadsden Public Library; 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Premiere Cinemas at the Gadsden Mall; and 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 31 at VFW Post 2760), or by scheduling a donation online at redcrossblood.org?

Your gift may only help a sick person who needs surgery — but it will be just as important and just as appreciated.

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