On Feb. 18, the Houchin Community Blood Bank, in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, brought their donor bus to Wasco.
"When I first donated, I found out I was O positive, which I learned was the most needed blood type. I am young and healthy, and there is no reason I can't do my part to help," donor Jose Castro said.
"The process is simple," he said. "It doesn't hurt, and afterward, you get a snack. I feel terrific knowing that I am making a big difference for something that takes less than an hour. I encourage others to learn more about the procedure and change their misconceptions that donating is dangerous."
"We have partnered with the Houchin Community Blood Bank for more than 11 years," Danny Espitia, a 20-year member of the Knights of Columbus, said. "For me, it's about saving lives and being a good Christian, honoring my God, my family, and my friends. Also, when I give blood, it is beneficial because as a male, donating has been linked to preventing prostate cancer."
Many Wasco residents have been donating for years. Martiniano Sandoval has given 14 gallons of blood and is working on his 15th.
"It's a piece of cake, and it makes me happy knowing that with each donation, I am impacting three lives," Sandoval said. "I know that every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood."
"All one needs to donate is a form of identification. When they arrive, donors are provided with general information and asked to fill out a basic questionnaire on a tablet. All of our educational materials and documents are translated into Spanish, so there is no language barrier," said Houchin Community Blood Bank Account Manager Stephanie Pimentel.
"We try to make the event special and fun. The Knights of Columbus, as always, were generous and hosted a barbeque with hot dogs and drinks. It was festive, and I believe everyone that donated had a good time. We try to not only make it easy for the donors to give, but it is also our goal to make the experience as enjoyable as possible," said Pimentel.
"Right now, there is a nationwide shortage of blood, and Kern County has been highly affected by this, especially with covid," Pimentel explained. "When one gives in Wasco, the majority of the donations stay local, and so that is good for the community."
"When I learned that the bus was back, I was excited and thought, let's do it again. It was so convenient, and I literally walked here from my home," donor Leo Armendariz said. Armendariz said he has donated over 100 times.
"I know people need blood, and I have a lot of it. I love knowing that my blood is going to help someone that really needs it," said donor Vivianna Zamora.
The Houchin Community Blood Bank has been serving the city of Wasco for more than 30 years. Visit hcbb.com to learn more about the importance of donating and when the bus will return.
"When you give, people live," said Pimentel.