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Thursday, July 07, 2022

LifeSouth Halloween blood drive starts

Blood donors aren't used to seeing blood smeared on LifeSouth's windows and walls.

The LifeSouth Regional Headquarters & Donor Center on Northwest 13th Street kicks off its Halloween haunted blood drive today.

Rats hug the counter of the receptionist's desk, bats hover silently by the ceiling, and ghoulish graves are propped up in the eerily lit sitting room.

Christine Evans, LifeSouth's donor collections manager, said the staff has been working on the haunted house for about two weeks.

"We kind of let them have free reign, and we get really excited about it," Evans said.

J.D. Pettyjohn, the North Florida district director, said anybody can walk through and not have to donate blood.

However, officials hope visitors who visit the center will decide to donate, Pettyjohn said.

"You're going to feel like you're in a totally different world," he said.

The haunted house is almost pitch-black when donors enter.

"We've outlined a little zig-zag pattern for you to walk through and be scared," Pettyjohn said.

Flickering strobe lights disorient visitors as they feel their way around corners.

A zombie woman with glowing green eyes lurks in the pathway, and a purple spider's web marks the end of the maze.

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Wendy Hill, the LifeSouth branch manager, said she finds the haunted house too scary.

"I don't like to go through it, especially if I'm here early in the morning by myself," Hill said.

Evans said people who don't celebrate Halloween and might be offended by the decorations can donate blood at the Newberry location. The decorations will be up until after Halloween, she said.

"I've gotten a lot of feedback that people really like it," she said.

The LifeSouth center gets two to three times as many donors during this time of year as it would during non-promotion times, Evans said.

The staff has been buying Halloween props since August, Evans said.

"They can constantly add to it," she said.

People who donate blood will receive a Halloween T-shirt and a Whataburger coupon.

Donors also are registered from now until Dec. 31 to win a red Chevrolet Cobalt.

Pettyjohn said it's important to make the LifeSouth center an enjoyable environment.

"We realize the donation process is something people do out of the goodness of their hearts," he said.

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