WHEELING - American Red Cross workers hope to collect at least 400 units of blood Monday, representing the potential for 400 lives to be saved because of Ohio Valley residents' donations.
That goal has been set for the 27th-annual Ohio Valley Media Day Blood Drive, slated 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling. It is the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region's largest single-day drive of the year.
The event takes place each January because winter is typically the slowest time of year for blood drives. To help encourage people to brave the often-chilly weather this time of year, organizers offer a variety of free items and services.
For example, everyone showing up to donate will receive a Media Day T-shirt. And a special canteen offers free pizza, salad, fruit, doughnuts and soft drinks, all donated by local businesses. There is also free parking at the nearby Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Center, and free child care is available.
As has been the case for several years, Airport Limousine has offered free van transportation to the blood drive to people living in Ohio County and the Wheeling area. Co-owner Renee Dorsey said people should call ahead at 304-232-1175 to make arrangements. She said pickups and drop-offs are often grouped together to make the service more feasible for the company.
''We prefer people live in Ohio County, but if they live outside we'll see what we can do,'' she said.
Red Cross spokeswoman Cheryl Gergely noted all blood types are needed, but O negative - the universal blood type - is always in high demand.
''This annual event is one of our premier blood drive events, and we think that helping to save lives through blood donation is an honor,'' Gergely said. ''The people of Wheeling and the surrounding areas support this blood drive, but more importantly they support the patients in hospitals who require blood transfusions as part of their medical treatment. We're grateful for their dedication.''