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About a week ago, I went to my local Red Cross to give blood. It’s nothing special, it’s just something that I do every couple of months. I’ve been doing this for about five years now, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people about it, and gotten a lot of perspectives from those who donate, and those who don’t.

Most people I know give blood because they know, or knew, someone who needs it, or needed it in the past. The second most common reason is for that warm fuzzy feeling. There are plenty of other reasons to give blood, but they’re much less common. Some people give blood because they got sick or injured, and received blood that saved their life. Some people give blood for the free food and movie tickets.

There are two main groups of people I’ve seen giving blood. Groups of young people and solitary adults. The young people are going, most likely, because someone in the group convinced everyone else to go. The adults have been doing this for years, and have probably donated more blood than I have in my body.

But I find the people who don’t give blood far more interesting. These people come from every demographic and social group. Whenever I tell someone I give blood, they’re always quick to praise me for my (minor) sacrifice, and then they quickly give me some excuse as to why they don’t do the same. Maybe they never have time, or they had a bad experience, or they can’t stand the sight of blood. Maybe the donation center is too far away, or they can never find someone to go with them.

Now, there are plenty of legitimate reasons not to give blood. There’s a whole host of medical conditions that can prevent someone from giving blood, either temporarily or permanently. Lots of activities can get you banned from ever giving blood, and those people have a valid excuse for not donating.

But there are plenty of other people who have less-than-valid excuses for not donating. And they all pale in comparison to the fact that people will die if you don’t donate blood. Oh, you don’t have time to donate? Make time. Don’t like the sight of blood? Don’t look. Does it hurt too much? Deal with it. It takes fifteen minutes, at most, and it’s nothing compared to what that kid with leukemia has to go through. Or that car accident victim, or that police officer wounded in the line of duty.

Every year, the Red Cross collects blood donations from millions of people, and they use it to save millions more. They are constantly in need of more people to give blood, and every single donation helps. The donation is simple, mostly painless, and takes about an hour of your time. So stop giving excuses, and donate.

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