PITTSBURG — Countryside Christian Church, in collaboration with the American Red Cross, has been hosting a blood drive at the church that began at noon Tuesday, going until 6 p.m., and which will continue on Wednesday, June 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The blood drive was coordinated by Rachel Ruiz, a recent Pittsburg High School graduate who has donated blood twice herself, but could not the last time she tried to because she found out she was anemic. Anemia is a condition that can result from an iron deficiency and can often be treated, but because of her anemia Ruiz cannot currently donate blood.

“I heard about this program that lets students host drives,” Ruiz said. “So I thought I could still be involved in the process of it, just not donating.” She added that if there are others in her same position who are unable to donate blood, volunteering at blood drives is also helpful to the community.

“Before I was 16 I always worked the school blood drives and I volunteered then, as like working in the canteen or helping sign up people, but I’ve never actually done something like this where I hosted one,” Ruiz said.

The two-day blood drive that Ruiz organized through the Leaders Save Lives Scholarship Program already had about 20 people signed up as of Tuesday, but was still looking for more donors.

Those wanting to donate blood must be at least 16 years old with a parent’s written permission.

“I always saw it as a way to help, but still be behind the scenes,” Ruiz said. “Like it’s just an indirect way of helping someone. Because I know the Red Cross, sometimes they’ll tell you where your blood goes, and like who you’re helping, and I so I think it’s just nice to know you’re helping someone somehow, in some way.”

Hayden Drake will be a senior at Pittsburg High School beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Drake, who has donated blood once before and found out about the June 25 and 26 blood drive from Ruiz said he decided to donate blood because it could help people who need it.

“I just kind of felt like I should,” Drake said. One pint of blood — the standard donation amount — can save up to three lives, according to the Red Cross.

The June 25 and 26 blood drive is what’s called an express blood drive, according to Beth Nichols, a supervisor with the American Red Cross. Countryside Christian Church also hosts a bi-monthly drive that is larger scale and known as a mobile blood drive.

The blood drive is part of the Red Cross’s Missing Types Campaign, and blood types O positive and O negative are in high demand because they are the most compatible for blood transfusions, but the Red Cross welcomes donations of all blood types.

“We’re missing all the blood types,” Nichols said, “and during the summer our blood drives, our donations are down usually because people are on vacation, or one reason or another, so they try to get the community to be aware of the need for the blood.”

The maximum time it takes to donate blood, including recovery time to be able to, for example, drive a car again after having blood drawn, is about 45 minutes according to Nichols. Donors can give blood every 112 days.

Those interested in giving blood at this week’s blood drive can contact Ruiz at rachel.m.ruiz2442@gmail.com. Those interested in donating blood at Countryside Christian Church’s blood drives, which are hosted regularly every two months, can contact the church at 620-232-9210. Those interested in finding other Red Cross blood drives in their area, or students interested in setting up a blood drive through the Leaders Save Lives Scholarship Program, can contact the Red Cross at 800-733-2767 (1-800 RED CROSS) or visit www.redcross.org.