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Wing donates 116 percent of blood drive goal

A blood donation bag rests on an Airman’s leg at an American Red Cross blood drive at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

A blood donation bag rests on an Airman’s leg at an American Red Cross blood drive at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

161214-Z-EU280-2020: U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Dolan, a C-130 Hercules navigator with the 182nd Operations Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, gets sterilized with iodine before donating blood at an American Red Cross blood drive at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

161214-Z-EU280-2020: U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Dolan, a C-130 Hercules navigator with the 182nd Operations Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, gets sterilized with iodine before donating blood at an American Red Cross blood drive at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Sara Corteville, a command post superintendent with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, and Tech. Sgt. Dawn Tavenner, background, the chief of information protection with the 182nd Security Forces Squadron, donate blood at an American Red Cross blood drive in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Sara Corteville, a command post superintendent with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, and Tech. Sgt. Dawn Tavenner, background, the chief of information protection with the 182nd Security Forces Squadron, donate blood at an American Red Cross blood drive in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

An American Red Cross employee draws blood from a donor at a blood drive at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

An American Red Cross employee draws blood from a donor at a blood drive at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., Dec. 14, 2016. The wing’s company grade officers council hosted the event as a way for unit members to give back to their communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

PEORIA, Ill. -- Airmen with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing exceeded the unit’s donation goal by 16 percent at a blood drive hosted here that collected more than 3.6 gallons of blood Dec. 14.

Thirty-three donors provided 29 pints of blood during a time in which the American Red Cross has increased their status of need from urgent to critical due to the holidays, said 1st Lt. Edward Hauter, an air liaison officer with the 169th Air Support Operations Squadron and organizer of the blood drive.

The blood drive, facilitated by the 182nd Medical Group and sponsored by the 182nd Airlift Wing Company Grade Officers Council that Hauter serves on, fulfilled two of the council’s three operating goals.

“Our purpose of the blood drive that we came up with was enhance [unit] social interaction while giving back to the community,” Hauter said. “Obviously, a lot of hospitals are hurting right now, hurting for donations, so we have the capability and plenty of able bodies.”

Each donor typically gives a little more than one pint of blood, said Ashley Gargano, a team leader with the American Red Cross.

“We definitely save lives if you’re giving blood. You never know when a disaster happens in the area or anywhere in the country, so we want to make sure we always have blood in stock to give to those in need,” she said.

According to Gargano, the more advertisement and the more people can explain the importance of donating blood, the better her organization can meet the needs of the medical community. The universal O-negative blood type is especially in demand, she said, because it is compatible with every other blood type and is receivable by anybody.

“The hospitals are wanting blood every day and we’re always doing shipments, so the more we can get the word out on people wanting to give blood, the better,” Gargano said.

As for the Dec. 14 drive, the wing scheduled 34 donation slots and accrued a waitlist of 28 Airmen.

“I think that we had a great turnout. It was cool to see everybody up there and the wing getting together for a cause around this time of year,” Hauter said.

Due to the large response for volunteers, the wing is planning to host a second blood drive for unit members in February. More information for interested volunteers will be provided at January’s regularly scheduled drill.