Blood; The Central Alberta Buccaneers know it’s in you to give.

The Bucs have worked in close partnership with Canadian Blood Services, and Red Deer Blood services since 2013.

“One of our team mandates that year was to get more involved in the community. The blood drive was one of the very first things we did. It’s really simple, it’s easy, and it’s fun. I personally hate donating blood, but being able to go with your brothers makes it a good experience,” said Todd Lewis, Buccaneers Linebacker and Blood Drive Organizer.

Despite the Pandemic, this year has been no different for the crew. The Bucs continued to push for donations through the pandemic before closing out 2020 with the launch of a two month long blood drive against the Red Deer Titans.

According to Red Deer Blood Services territory manager of donor relations Marissa Stryker, the push could not have come at a better time. While the need for blood is always constant, it is amplified during the months of November, December, and January.

“We definitely experience a dip in donations … the most wonderful time of the year but it’s the busiest time of the year too. I think some people don’t even realize we’re open. The only day we take off is Dec. 25. We need to have that constant flow of blood coming in,” Stryker said. “The need for blood never takes a holiday.”

As it is, Canadian Blood Services must provide hundreds of thousands of litres of blood every day to

keep up with demand.

The additional stress put on the system by the backlog of surgeries caused by the one day wildcat strike healthcare workers took part in earlier this year only served to exacerbate the problem locally.

“Procedures people needed to go through were put on hold. We had a dip where not a lot of blood was being used, then all of the sudden, boom, these hospitals were pushing people through faster and the need for blood just increased. We had to get more donors in for that too, it’s been a roller coaster of a year.”

Nervousness surrounding Covid-19 has been a factor as well, as residents are rightly worried about visiting high contact areas. Stryker assures safety has always been the first priority of Red Deer Blood Services when it comes to their donors. Procedures have been put in place to ensure all health protocols can be followed.

“There are a lot of people who are fearful of leaving their homes to do something like this. That’s good because staying home is what you’re supposed to do, but at the same time, we’re an essential service, where else are hospitals going to get blood?” Stryker said “We’re an incredibly safe place to be. To be honest, we haven’t had to make that many changes. Safety has always been our number one priority.”

The Buccaneers know first hand how safe the process is. They have been leading by example with players signing up regularly throughout the pandemic. The organization is committed to doing whatever it takes to continue to help Red a Deer Blood Services meet their steep and never-ending goals.

Though the need will never disappear entirely, Stryker notes the Bucs contributions have made a difference. Donations are up at Red Deer Blood services by more than 100 per cent since the launch of the drive, with more appointments booked under the Bucs or Titans names daily.

“It’s something I’m personally really proud of. One of the reasons I love the Bucs is it’s a community. It’s not just players, it’s coaches, sponsors, fans and volunteers. When you have a family as strong as the Bucs do, you can make an impact on the community,” Lewis said. “Seeing people run with it and continue to donate even through COVID times, it’s pretty cool to see what people can do and it makes me proud to be a part of it.”
To book an appointment with Red Deer Blood Services, go to https://www.blood.ca/en.