Canadian Blood Services volunteers took to the corridors of Woodgrove Shopping Centre to campaign for new donors Friday.
Campaigning from a mall kiosk was the brainchild of Panvir Dhaliwal, a university student and volunteer, who with other volunteers, handed out balloons to children and leaflets listing upcoming blood donor clinics scheduled for Nanaimo.
Most shoppers walked past, eyes averted as if avoiding hawkers who regularly pitch from kiosks offering everything from beauty lotions to sunglasses and radio-controlled toys.
“This is just an awareness campaign,” Dhaliwal said. “We’re not actually taking donations right now. One of the biggest problems that we have is people don’t know when the clinics are – when the dates are – because we don’t take blood every single day. What we’re hoping to do is get some information out there, so people know what’s going on.”
Aside from not knowing clinic dates and locations, people also often don’t know whether they’re eligible to give blood or where they can call or find out information online.
The low number of pamphlets accepted by passersby doesn’t surprise Chris Barron, Canadian Blood Services territory manager, who said, due to budget restrictions, the organization does little advertising in B.C. and only about 2.5 per cent of the population regularly donates blood.
“So it’s not surprising to see more people walk by than actually talk with us,” Barron said.
About 2,500 people are regular blood donors in Nanaimo.
“We do have a well-attended clinic in Nanaimo, but it is showing a little bit of a decline in the amount of donors showing up as of late.”
Barron said some people in Nanaimo donate blood regularly up to six times each year.
“Which is a slippery slope because if those people start to be unable to donate we’ve got to pick people up on the other side,” Barron said.
Canadian Blood Services holds blood donation clinics several times each month at Beban Park Social Centre.
For more information, please call Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-236-6283 or visit www.blood.ca.