By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — This police event always draws a crowd — for all the right reasons.
The Derry police annual summer blood drive June 26 drew crowds coming in from the heat to donate blood and help save lives.
The Derry drives are held twice a year to help support the American Red Cross and its mission to ensure adequate blood supplies during the busy summer months when need is often the greatest. Another drive is held in January.
The goal of the day was 350 pints and lines were long and steady even though the day was overcast and a bit rainy.
Last summer’s drive netted more than 300 pints. By noon, business was brisk.
As an extra welcoming gesture, longtime Derry businessman and blood drive volunteer Sydney Barlow offered a friendly smile as donors came through the door.
Barlow, who ran Barlow’s Flower Shop on Birch Street for 53 years, said he was happy to help. He is a member of the Derry Police Senior Advisory Committee.
“This is my favorite thing,” he said.
American Red Cross collections operations supervisor Mary Jane Barrington said the local police do a great job with the blood drive and collection efforts.
“There is always a need,” she said.
People always return each year, the familiar faces that always come back to help save a life.
“They have a lot to be proud of,” she said. “And many have their own personal stories. People show up on a rainy day, that shows a commitment.”
Fifteen-year-old Joey Puglisi wasn’t old enough yet to be a blood donor, but he spent the day at the drive, volunteering and making sure everyone was directed to the correct place.
When he’s 16, he said, he will be giving blood.
Joey will be a sophomore at Pinkerton Academy in the fall and said helping others is at the top of his list.
“I took all opportunities to come here today,” he said. “It’s my aspiration to always do good.”
Red Cross communities program Manager mary Brant said the Derry drive is one of the most successful. The weather may even work in her favor.
“It’s going very, very well,” she said. “And we are excited about the rain. It might get people off the beach today and get them in the door.”