They’re out for blood: Battle of the Badges drive returns

Published 8:22 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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The Battle of the Badges blood drive returns for another year, but everyone is welcome, and encouraged, to participate.

The blood drive takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn-Suffolk Riverfront.

Katie Jones, community development officer with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office, noted her department’s win last year, beating out the Suffolk Police Department and Suffolk Fire & Rescue.

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“We’re looking again to muster up,” Jones said. “We’re ready.”

But more importantly, the American Red Cross has a critical need for more blood.

“We’re just encouraging community members to come and give blood for their favorite first responder agency,” Jones said.

Last year, the Battle of the Badges drive had 87 donors as the sheriff’s office had 19 supporters, beating out the other two ‘badges,’ which had eight supporters apiece. The Sheriff’s Office aims to retain its title.

To make an appointment for the blood drive, people can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), go to or use the Red Cross blood donor app and input the code HGI. People can set up a rapid pass by inputting their initial information, and then when they arrive at the donation site, the Red Cross will screen people prior to giving to make sure they are eligible to donate.

Jones encourages those who are not able to schedule an appointment to walk in and donate. People can also be screened for sickle cell disease during the event. The Red Cross will screen blood donation by self-identified African-American donors for Hemoglobin S, a key indicator of the sickle cell trait. It is part of the blood donation process and is free.

“Blood donations are definitely down right now,” Jones said. “But we’re also looking for donors to help with sickle cell. That seems to be the most urgent need right now.”

She suggested people set aside about an hour to donate blood, though it can often take less time.

“We certainly have a great need,” Jones said, “but we’re hoping that all three agencies, we can work together and pull this off, and bring more awareness to the blood shortages right now.”