More than 30 people donated blood to the American Red Cross at the Brunswick American Legion on Friday, April 9.

For many donors, this wasn’t their first time giving blood.

Melissa Kirkwood of Woolwich admitted she was reluctant to give blood when a friend first convinced her to go to a blood drive in the 1970s, but soon giving blood became a habit.

“I felt like a big baby after because I thought it was going to hurt, but it didn’t,” she said. “It was nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be.”

Since then, she has donated 12 gallons of blood in total and continues to donate alongside her grandchildren.

“I like to start them young so it becomes a lifelong practice,” she said. “(Giving blood) is a simple way to help your community and can be the difference between life and death for someone in need. How often can you impact so many people?”

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the US needs blood every two seconds and one pint of blood can save up to three lives. It is essential for surgeries and treating cancer, chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries.

Hugh Savage of Brunswick and Donna Poulde of Topsham also regularly give blood since they started donating when they were 16 and 19, respectively.

“It’s a way for me to help the community,” said Savage, who said he has donated 120 times.

“It’s one good thing I can do,” added Poulde. “I hope if I ever need blood, it’s there for me.”

The Red Cross has reported a blood shortage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the organization’s website. The main cause for the shortage is gathering restrictions, which have limited the ability to host walk-in blood drives the organization was known for prior to the pandemic.

Other regular blood drives that took place in high schools, colleges and workplaces were also canceled this year because many people are learning and working remotely due to the pandemic.

Stephanie Webster of Brunswick had only donated blood twice in memory of a friend’s daughter that died of a brain tumor when she was 4 years old. However, Webster decided to donate at the American Legion on Friday because “I got a call that (the Red Cross is) in critical need now.”

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