By Julie Huss
DERRY — The parking lot was packed, but local officers kept traffic snarls under control for the day.
It was all good news for the Derry Police Department.
Police hosted their annual summer blood drive last Friday. The parking lots at Promises to Keep were filled all day with potential donors lining up to roll up their sleeves and give blood.
Derry police blood drives are held twice a year to help support the Red Cross and its mission to ensure adequate blood supplies during the busy summer months when the need is great.
With a goal of 300 pints for the day, the lines were long and steady.
Last year, the summer drive netted 349 pints of blood.
Right, now American Red Cross officials say the blood supply is dangerously low, due to the season, but also to a lower number of people giving blood.
Regular donor Howard Graser was holding his number 112 in his hand while waiting his turn.
"I give all the time," Graser said. "I've been doing it for years."
His wife, Karen, also is a regular donor.
"We do it as a team," Graser said.
Derry blood drives are among the most successful in the nation.
In addition to the summer drive, police also host a drive in January.
A Derry event once brought in more than 400 pints and earned a spot as the 60th biggest collection in the country.
The average drive brings in about 53 pints.
It's not only regular donations that are needed. Platelets are needed as well.
American Red Cross representative Bonnie Dumont said giving platelets is an easy way to help save a life. Many people may not know about how to give platelets, she said.
A platelet donation takes about two hours and typically is used to help cancer patients. Donations are accepted at the American Red Cross facility in Manchester.
"Most donors have someone in their family that needed platelets," she said. "Other people just don't know about it. But it's a very gratifying thing to do."
Donna M. Morrissey, director of communications with the American Red Cross Blood Services Northeast Division, said the summer is a good time to help when demand is typically high for blood and platelets.
"The Red Cross relies upon generous blood donors so we can supply blood when and where it is needed," she said.
For Grazer, it's an easy way to help.
"I like to help people," he said. "If I can save someone's life, I'll do it."
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