Today is Giving Tuesday, a day to give donations and help others in our community. We are often encouraged to "give what you can," but might forget that we can give a lot more than money.
I don't have trillions of dollars to donate to all my favorite nonprofits, but I do have trillions of red blood cells. So this week, I made a donation at my local American Red Cross blood donation center.
One of the first laws I worked on in my state policy career was a bill in North Carolina to reduce the minimum age for blood donation to 16 (for example, so more students could donate at high school blood drives). The legislator who championed that bill had a long history of donating and I always wanted to follow his example.
Honestly, though, getting blood drawn made me terribly nervous and I put off donating for years. But around the time of hurricane season in 2017, when there were many needs for emergency supplies in communities across the country, I realized I needed to face my fears and help out.
Now, I see blood donation as convenient and comfortable.
Today, I'm keeping a regular habit of donating 2 units of red blood cells every three months. Since my blood type is O+, I learned that this is the type of donation that I can make the most impact giving.
This week, I passed a milestone by making over 1 gallon in red blood cell donations. I did some basic math, and if I'm able to continue donating for the next 30 years, I can make 22.5 gallons in additional donations, and help a lot of people who need those cells more than I do.
I highly encourage you to visit an American Red Cross blood donation center, or download their great Blood Donor app and learn more about the process.
Once you get into donating (which you can even make an activity to share with friends and family), it becomes easier and even more satisfying to do.