Sonya Villarreal was among the first donors to take part in the H-E-B Challenge blood drive Friday afternoon in the H-E-B Plus parking lot in Copperas Cove.

“I think it’s really, really important,” Villarreal said as a Carter BloodCare staff member prepped her for her donation. “You never really know when you ... might need blood (yourself).

“I think it’s really important for us to help each other,” the Copperas Cove H-E-B employee said.

H-E-B has been holding the blood drive each summer for 16 years. In partnership with Carter BloodCare, a mobile donation center tours Central Texas H-E-B locations, allowing company employees and the general public to donate blood during a time when donations to area blood banks is generally very low.

“More than 20 percent of Carter BloodCare’s annual collections come from high school blood drives and that is a significant reason why blood collections in the summer can suffer,” said Linda Goelzer, director, Carter BloodCare public relations. “We really appreciate H-E-B’s partnership because it energizes the community to recognize the ongoing and growing necessity for blood.”

H-E-B urges its employees to donate blood during the two week challenge, which runs through July 7. The store that gets the highest ratio of donations per employee wins a trophy that travels from store to store each year. The store that has the most donations overall also wins a trophy. Gatesville’s H-E-B won the traveling trophy during last year’s challenge by having 59% of their store employees participate in the challenge. Wooded Acres H-E-B in Waco won the trophy for most donations overall last year with 73 units.

Donor Megan Meadors said the competition aspect didn’t enter into her decision to give blood Friday.

“I don’t see (this) as being a competition,” Meadors said. “If there’s a Carter Blood Center that I can give blood to and I see it, I normally stop and try and give blood.”

Meadors hoped more people would make the choice to give blood as often as possible.

“As many people with different blood types can give blood, that’s what’s going to save somebody or multiple people’s lives.”

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