LONGTIME TOPSHAM RESIDENT Russell “Rusty” Rancourt, who has been diagnosed with leukemia, received blood transfusions at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston recently.

LONGTIME TOPSHAM RESIDENT Russell “Rusty” Rancourt, who has been diagnosed with leukemia, received blood transfusions at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston recently.

TOPSHAM

As Mt. Ararat High School National Honor Society students work with the American Red Cross to organize an annual blood drive, they have in mind one of their own: a local icon in Topsham who has recently relied on the services the Red Cross provides.

MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL students at work organizing for the Dec. 7 blood drive, from left, are Ben York, Dannielle Krause and Daphenie Thenor.

MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL students at work organizing for the Dec. 7 blood drive, from left, are Ben York, Dannielle Krause and Daphenie Thenor.

According to an announcement about a blood drive scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 at the high school, the National Honor Society and the American Red Cross are dedicating the event to longtime Topsham resident Russell “Rusty” Rancourt, who has been diagnosed with leukemia and received blood transfusions during his recent stay at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

“Since people have found out about Rusty’s illness, I am getting a flood of requests from his friends and neighbors wanting to know how they can help,” said Kathleen Bonang, Rancourt’s partner.

“The idea of dedicating this blood drive came to me as a way for his friends, neighbors and family to help Rusty, not only with the blood he needed but to help pay back and thank the Red Cross for the work they do, because it’s the blood on the shelves today that helps save lives,” Bonang said.

Rancourt ran the small Rusty’s store on Middlesex Road for 40 years. When the landmark was demolished recently to make way for a larger convenience store and fuel pump station, he and his namesake returned to the new store, and he continued to work behind the grill — cooking, among other treats, his famous sausage, onions and pepper sub.

Volunteers can give a blood donation at the Mt. Ararat High School Commons 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. The school is located at 73 Eagles Way.

“Double red cell machines” will be available at this drive, as most patients now receive specific blood components such as platelets, red blood cells or plasma during their treatment, rather than whole blood, according to the Red Cross.

“Double red cell technology, an advanced, automated process, is the most efficient method of collecting the blood components most frequently needed by patients in our community,” the Red Cross said in a news release.

According to Allen Graffam, adviser for the Mt. Ararat High School National Honor Society, the NHS hosts this drive annually and is aiming this year to collect 100 units of blood.

The goal is more lofty than in past years, but the group hopes for a good response this year with the special dedication.

Individuals who are 17 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

To make an appointment call 1-800 RED CROSS or register online at redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins are welcome.

For more information, visit redcross.org or on Twitter @redcross.

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