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Mesa Recruiting Center teams with Red Cross for blood drive

Staff Sgt. Mike Rodriguez (left) and Sgt. Aaron Avellanoza (right), both recruiters for Mesa Recruiting Center, Tempe Recruiting Company, Phoenix Recruiting Battalion, stand outside the American Red Cross Bloodmobile, during a community blood drive organized by the recruiting center, Sept. 1, Mesa Armed Forces Recruiting Center, Mesa, Ariz. (U.S. Army Photo by Alun Thomas, USAREC Public Affairs)

Story by Alun Thomas

U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion – Phoenix

MESA, Ariz. – Recruiters from the Mesa Recruiting Center teamed up with the American Red Cross for a community blood drive, Sept. 1, Mesa Armed Forces Recruiting Center, Mesa, Ariz.

The blood drive was the second consecutive year the Mesa Center has collaborated with the Red Cross to bring their Bloodmobile to the center, with more than 50 people donating blood throughout the day.

The blood drive was the initiative of Staff Sgt. Mike Rodriguez, recruiter, Tempe Recruiting Company, Phoenix Recruiting Battalion, who said it’s intended to be a community event and increase the presence of the recruiting company in Mesa.

“I started doing this a year ago as a way to let people know we’re a presence in the community,” Rodriguez said. “I did some brainstorming and came up with the idea of a blood drive. I’d always see the Bloodmobile in the area, so I called the Red Cross who were immediately receptive to the idea. Everyone you see here donating today is from the local community.”

Rodriguez noted the increase in participants from the previous year, which was almost double.

“Last year we had 26 people donate blood and this year we’re looking at almost 50,” he said. “The hurricane (Harvey) in Houston has helped bring more people in. The Red Cross are all over the TV right now, so that’s a factor. People we saw from last year are also here again.”

“That’s great for us because they know where our recruiting center is and it brings more people here,” Rodriguez added.

The recruiters made a determined effort to advertise the blood drive, helping increase their presence, he continued.

“All of our recruiters were very active on social media and blasted advertising for this event and it’s definitely paid off today,” Rodriguez said. “The Red Cross also called their list of people up and asked if they wanted to donate here today. It’s a joint effort.”

Rodriguez said he and his recruiters take pride in being able to assist the community by holding the event, helping those in need and showing the positive work being done by the Army.

“I feel like we’re making a difference by being active in the community and showing we’re not just recruiters,” he said. “Knowing the blood will help some of the hurricane victims makes it even more special.”

Grateful for the help of the recruiters was Aaron Medina, a phlebotomist for the Red Cross, who said the partnership between themselves and the Army is mutually beneficial.

“The Mesa Recruiters have gone out of their way to host us at their center and accommodate our Bloodmobile,” Medina said. “They’ve provided food, drinks and free Army equipment for our donors and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Medina said the donors enjoy seeing the two organizations working together for a good cause, especially in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

“We need blood donations more than ever, especially after the tragic events of the hurricane,” he added. “Today we have more donors than we can handle and that’s due to the efforts of the recruiters to get the word out there.”

“It’s a great relationship we’ve formed and we look forward to it for years to come,” Medina said.

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