Ed Bettross picked up the free T-shirt after Monday's visit to the Shepeard Community Blood Center bus outside McDuffie Regional Medical Center.
The blood donor gathered his strength with some apple juice and chocolate chip cookies after making his gift to strangers.
He doesn't always accept a T-shirt, the regular donor said. But the bus brought a new style of shirt, so Bettross accepted a medium and went on his way.
"I feel like it helps people," he said. The fisheries biologist has never needed a blood transfusion, and he's never encountered the need during his more than 20 years on the job. But a family member has needed blood, he said. "I might need it someday. You never know," he said.
Not everyone is eligible to donate blood, he said, so he considers that ability a blessing.
Amy Bazemore soon followed Bettross from the van. She said her blood type and other rare factors make it safe for newborns. "So all my blood goes to little babies," she said. "I'm proud of it, too."
She enjoys working in the health field for Jim Capps Therapy Service. "I help people every day but this is one of the things I can do to save lives," she said.
Krista Purvis works in the lab at the Thomson hospital. "So I know how important it is for someone to have blood," she said. She, too, donated Monday.
Emily Sturkie, a recruitment specialist for Shepeard, told The McDuffie Mirror that the average number of people who "present themselves" for the Thomson stop is 22. Of course, not everyone is able to donate. In a publicity tour last week, Sturkie and Shepeard public relations coordinator Shannon C. Jones said the goal is set by averaging the previous three turnouts. That formula brought Monday's goal to 22.
The drive was scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m., and 20 potential donors had presented themselves by 5:30.
Chris Jensen, a CDL driver and phlebotomist for Shepeard, said the monthly stop at the hospital is one of seven regular stops in McDuffie County. Donors are only able to donate every eight weeks. "So 22 isn't bad," Jensen said.
Jensen said many blood drives are at schools or college campuses, which are out of session in the summer. He said that affects summer donations.
Jones said the demand for blood can be heavier during the summer. She said Shepeard serves 17 local hospitals.
To schedule a blood drive at an employer or other group, call Sturkie at (706) 737-4551.