BY TIFFANY MARTINEZ
Grady County residents continued to show their support for tornado victims yesterday afternoon, donating to the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) drive at Salt Creek Casino.
Seven OBI employees worked the event that was held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in a bus just outside of the front lobby of the casino, which held six patients at a time.
Salt Creek marketing director Shari Sims worked with OBI to help organize the blood drive.
“We had a very successful blood drive here in March,” Sims said. “We thought we could do it again.”
This particular drive had been scheduled months in advance, according to Sims, but the recent devastation that tornadoes have caused across the state has motivated a substantial amount of people to donate.
“We had an employee that has lost a home here at Salt Creek,” Sims said. “We want to do all that we can to help. We are a gaming facility — and we may be fairly new, but we want the communities of Oklahoma to know that we are here and that we are supporting them.”
Sims worked in the emergency service industry before delving into the business of marketing. She knows firsthand, she said, the generosity of Oklahoma and the vitality of volunteerism.
“The casino is also accepting donations for the victims,” Sims said, “and we’ve received most donations monetarily thus far.”
Daonne Skaggs, a five-year blood program consultant for OBI, assisted patrons in signing up and confirming appointments to donate blood at Salt Creek.
“Everyone receives an Oklahoma City t-shirt, and also a voucher for two tickets to the Oklahoma City Zoo,” Skaggs said. “All they have to do is donate blood.”
Following the tragedy in Moore, Skaggs said, there has been an outpour of people wanting to donate blood.
“We are especially preparing for Memorial Day weekend now too,” Skaggs said, “when a lot of people will be traveling and there are sometimes a lot of accidents.”
Skaggs said the OBI appreciates all types of blood but they are especially seeking out O-negative donors.
“Only nine percent of the population has O-negative, and that’s what we have the least of right now,” Sims said.
“The best part of my job is knowing that I’m saving lives,” Sims said.
Oklahoma resident Hailey Henderson booked an appointment to donate at the blood drive, and said that her reason for doing so is more personal than most.
“I was a tornado victim in 2011,” Henderson said. “Anything that anyone is willing to do is just awesome.”
Henderson said she lost her home in 2011, near Friend, Okla. and witnessed a sense of giving from Oklahomans that she will never forget.
“It was such a humbling experience,” Henderson said. “There are so many people and organizations that come out wanting to help. It just feels like everyone in this state always wants to give a hand.”
Interested parties can find more information on donating blood at www.obi.org.