Hillside Ministries didn’t let the cancellation of one event on Saturday dampen its spirit of giving.

Originally a part of the canceled Bricks 4 Lymphoma, a fundraising event to fight leukemia and lymphoma, the church still held its first blood drive at its Killeen campus, 3601 Edgefield Drive.

Hillside’s pastor, Angel Valencia, held a sign toward passing traffic in front of the church’s parking area to encourage people to stop and donate.

“I’m a big believer in donating blood and I was a donor for many years until a heart problem forced me to quit,” Valencia said. “Our church wanted do our blood drive anyway because we’re all about making a difference in the community.”

Scott & White’s blood donation van was staffed by four phlebotomists, including the team’s leader Peggy Sofge.

“As long as a person is 17 years of age, has a valid photo ID and weighs at least 110 pounds, (he or she) is eligible to donate blood,” Sofge said. “The van is fully equipped to process five donors at a time starting with the interview and blood testing to see if the person meets the criteria.”

Ashton Rivera, 21, said he likes having a rare blood type, O-negative, because it means he is helping people that others can’t help.

“My blood is very important, so I have to give it away,” Rivera said.

His mother, Killeen resident Alana Rivera, always encouraged him to understand how important it is for him to be a donor.

“This is his second time, and once he found out that it doesn’t hurt, he wanted to continue donating,” she said.

Four people donated in the first hour.

Valencia was not deterred by the canceled event or low turnout as he waved a few more cars into the parking lot.

“Hillside Ministries will plan a bigger and better blood drive in the future,” he said.

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