DERRY — The Greater Derry Arts Council is sponsoring a blood drive on Thursday, April 2, at the historic Derry Opera House on West Broadway.

The drive is conducted by the American Red Cross. The drive is also officially "sold out," organizers say as many donors already signed up and made reservations from a previous VFW Post 1617 drive that was canceled due to the novel coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19.

No walk-in donors will be accepted.

"In order to comply with proper physical distancing and in an abundance of caution, donors need to have an appointment to arrive at a specific time to donate blood," said Michael Gendron, of the Greater Derry Arts Council.

Offering the Opera House space was a way for the community to continue to support each other during challenging times, Gendron said.

"Due to the fact that the Arts Council had to postpone many performances that were scheduled in March, April and May by our many theater, dance and music organizations in the community due to the pandemic, our theater space is 'dark' for the foreseeable future," Gendron said. "No shows are planned in the Opera House until May, at the very least, and even those are in question."

Many groups have been kind enough to reschedule shows instead of a cancellation, Gendron added, and that helps the arts group considerably.

"So with the theater empty, it made sense to offer the space to the American Red Cross who reached out to use to ask to use the space," he said.

Gendron said not only is it important to sign up to donate blood safely during these times, it's also a show of community support for people to step up and do the right thing to help medical providers in the time of severe blood shortages.

"I want to thank the members of the Arts Council who will be helping prepare the theater space for this event during this time of uncertainty," Gendron said.

He said another blood drive could be held at the Opera House if the American Red Cross reaches out again to use the space.

Visit redcross.org for information on blood drives in the area and ways to donate safely.

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