What can I do?

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Six local breweries are teaming up to encourage Rhode Islanders to donate blood.

What can I do?


Such a feeling of hopelessness this past week as we watched so many Americans injured and dying by acts that are unexplainable to any of us. Many people feel as though there is nothing they can do.  They can pray. They can talk about what happened, and try to be safer and more aware of their surroundings. They can hug their family members tighter - and should we all do that?


But what is one thing most of us can do - tomorrow? We can donate blood. Of the 38% of the population that can donate blood, only 5% actually donate. And in the summer months, the need remains the same for blood locally - yet the supply goes down as we vacation, and our schedules change. Every day, members of the local community donate over 200 units of life-saving blood & blood products to Rhode Islanders and our neighbors.

Six local breweries are teaming up to encourage Rhode Islanders to donate blood.

During the month of August, all presenting donors at Rhode Island Blood Center’s (RIBC) six blood and platelet donation centers who are 21 or older can choose to receive a coupon for a free pint of beer. Participating breweries include Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingstown, Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly, Foolproof in Pawtucket, The Guild in Pawtucket, Proclamation Ale Company in Warwick, and Newport Craft Brewing Co. in Newport.

A typical blood donation is one pint, which can help save up to three lives by being processed into three blood products -- red cells, platelets and plasma. Summer being a particularly challenging time when blood centers across the country struggle to prevent shortages, Kara LeBlanc, manager of marketing communications at RIBC, says, “We’re competing with beautiful beach days, vacations, and schools that regularly hold drives being out of session. But patients do not get a break from needing blood. We appreciate these local organizations coming together encouraging the community to help someone else in need of blood by thanking donors with a pint of their own brew.”

Emily Sorlien, brand manager of Whalers, says, “When the Blood Center first approached us about partnering for blood drive promotion, it was a no brainer for us. We see the Whalers taproom as a very community oriented space, so being able to give back to this community, which has been so supportive of us over the years, is very meaningful to us. We had really positive feedback from staff and customers the first time around, so we were happy to help again this summer. It’s great to see other breweries joining in, too.”

Blood is needed to help women and newborns during complications with childbirth; people battling cancer or undergoing chemotherapy; people who have suffered trauma or severe burns; people with heart and kidney disease and blood disorders like sickle cell anemia; and individuals who need surgery and organ transplants.

All presenting center donors in August will also be automatically entered into a drawing to win a pair of tickets to see the New England Patriots home opener at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, September 8. Donors 16 years and older will be eligible for the Patriot’s ticket drawing. Donors must be 21 years of age to participate in the pint for a pint program. To encourage responsible drinking, coupons cannot be redeemed on the same day as the blood or platelet donation. Breweries strictly enforce checking identification of patrons to ensure they are of legal drinking age.

Standing as their loyal celebrity source of support and encouragement is NBC10’s Barbara Morse Silva who today hit a personal best of 101 donations. She donated before leaving for vacation, giving platelets for a count of 518. Great job, Barbara!

More Than a Blood Center

The Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC) was founded in 1979 as a non-profit community blood center. For over 40 years, we have been the primary supplier of blood and blood products to patients being cared for in hospitals throughout Rhode Island and in neighboring states. Our mission is to help save lives by ensuring a safe, plentiful and cost-effective blood supply. 

RIBC is much more than just a blood collection organization or blood bank. We register people for the National Marrow Donor Program and collect stem cells of donors who match recipients needing bone marrow transplants right at our Providence Center. We provide therapeutic treatments for patients in local hospitals. Our state-of-the-art laboratory conducts human leukocyte antigen (HLA) histocompatibility, red cell typing and immunogenics. We are also involved in a variety of local and national research programs in an effort to improve all aspects of the blood supply. 

RIBC has long-standing relationships with many organizations in the community who sponsor blood drives. These sponsors help inspire, educate and encourage the many volunteer blood donors needed to supply over 200 units of blood and blood products that must be collected each day to meet the needs of patients and hospitals we serve in Rhode Island and throughout New England. 

The Rhode Island Blood Center is a division of New York Blood Center.

If you think there’s nothing you can do - think again - give blood, and encourage others to do so.

Photo: RI Blood Center Facebook page