MAHONING VALLEY Residents line up to restock blood supply

Officials hope the stream of willing donors continues.
AUSTINTOWN -- In the wake of the New York and Washington tragedies, local residents answered the call for blood with caring hearts and outstretched, needle-pricked arms.
The parking lot outside the Austintown office of the American Red Cross blood donation center was filled to capacity Tuesday. As one car pulled out, another was quick to take its place. Potential donors unable to find parking on the property could be seen making their way to the office from neighboring parking lots.
Sarah Yankle, Jackie Liptak and Jocelyn Kopinsky, all 19 from Campbell, sat along the wall outside the main entrance to the office waiting their turn to donate. All three girls -- one a first-time donor -- said giving blood in light of the crisis is imperative.
Full house: Every seat inside was taken, and the receptionist was hard-pressed to keep up with passing out the necessary paperwork to the consistent stream of willing donors.
East Palestine resident Lee Lipp made his way into the office still wearing clothes embroidered with the name of the company where he works. After taking the forms from the receptionist, he took notice of the 2 to 21/2 hour waiting time, checked in with the office and said he wouldn't be back Tuesday.
Nancy Cox, donor recruitment representative for Red Cross, said residents have responded like Lipp to calls for blood across the Mahoning Valley since Tuesday afternoon.
"The response has been wonderful and reassures us that people feel as if we are all in this together and are willing to help in every way," she said.
She is hopeful that the outpouring of support continues for the next couple of weeks. She said most of the injured will be burn victims and will need attention on an ongoing basis.
Heeding the call: Leann Plunkett is a 22-year-old, first-time donor from Austintown. She sat patiently in the waiting area with three friends who are also first-time donors. Plunkett said they heard there was a call for blood and decided it was their responsibility to participate.
Austintown resident Stacy Williams had a more personal reason for waiting in line to donate. She has a friend who was in New York city planning a wedding. As of late Tuesday afternoon the friend had not been heard from by those closest to her. Williams said giving blood Tuesday was the least she could do in hopes that her friend will be OK.
Cox said all available supplies will be sent to areas of the country where they are most needed. The Red Cross also has an emergency response vehicle headed for New York as of this morning.

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