BROOKSVILLE - With school out for the summer, and families either spending their days at the beach or leaving for vacation, donating blood is one of the last things on many Hernando County residents' minds.
Adam Butler, regional manager of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, said blood supply usually drops by a third during the summer months, and the supplier is working proactively to offset the seasonal shortage it has come to expect.
"If something ever happens to you, you want and expect blood to be there," Butler said, adding those able to donate blood are really "giving a gift" to those who need it.
"We don't want it ever to get to the point that we have to tell someone no," Butler added.
LifeSouth is a nonprofit organization that supplies blood for local hospitals in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. According to LifeSouth's website, about five million Americans need a blood transfusion every year. That means that 728 blood donors are needed every day to keep blood supplies current.
Butler said LifeSouth works to keep a three-day blood supply on hand, which is consistent with other organizations across the U.S.
"Healthy donor blood gets used," Butler said, adding he often tells donors that their donation will be used by the end of the week.
Several donation events are planned for the first week of July.
A blood drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Walmart at 7305 Broad St. in Brooksville. The event will remember Zachary Kirby on what would have been his second birthday. Kirby, of Dade City, died last September from a rare genetic disorder called IPEX syndrome, and received multiple blood transfusions and a marrow transplant.
Butler said the first 15 donors will receive teddy bears.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, the LifeSouth blood mobile will be at the Hernando Sportsman's Club's machine gun shoot at 16121 Commercial Way in Brooksville.
Butler said those giving blood in the summer months should stay hydrated, have something to eat before they come in, and if not, take time getting up after giving blood.
Anyone 17 or older is able to donate, and anyone 16 or older with permission of a parent or guardian.
Donors should weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and bring photo identification.
LifeSouth's Brooksville Donor Center is located at 12395 Cortez Blvd., and open seven days a week. For more information on donating blood, call (352) 596-2002 or visit http ://www.lifesouth.org /donate.