Community-based initiative sets wing record with more than 100 blood donors

An Airman from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing approaches the sign-in desk for a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The drive is sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and all blood donated is used in New Jersey hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

An Airman from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing approaches the sign-in desk for a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The drive is sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and all blood donated is used in New Jersey hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

A U.S. Air Force Airman from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing squeezes an object while giving blood during a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The objects are given out for donors to squeeze in order to help blood flow. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

A U.S. Air Force Airman from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing squeezes an object while giving blood during a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The objects are given out for donors to squeeze in order to help blood flow. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Baruffi, an egress technician from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, gives blood during a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The drive is sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and all blood donated is used in New Jersey hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Baruffi, an egress technician from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, gives blood during a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The drive is sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and all blood donated is used in New Jersey hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

From left, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Baruffi, Airman 1st Class Brandon Staines, Senior Airman Ian VanVranken and Tech. Sgt. Gary Apel, all members of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, relax as they give blood during a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The drive is sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and all blood donated is used in New Jersey hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

From left, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Baruffi, Airman 1st Class Brandon Staines, Senior Airman Ian VanVranken and Tech. Sgt. Gary Apel, all members of the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, relax as they give blood during a blood drive on Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. The drive is sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and all blood donated is used in New Jersey hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Shane S. Karp/Released)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- More than 100 Airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard gathered, Aug. 29, to donate blood as part of a blood drive sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey.

The blood drive was coordinated by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Diana Brown, deputy mission support group commander at the 177th Fighter Wing, alongside Tony DeLuccio, director of recruiting, public relations and marketing for the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, and a retired Veteran with 22-years' service in the New Jersey Air National Guard.

"We've been doing this on base for two years now," said Brown. "We have a community-based mission, so we knew the Community Blood Council of New Jersey was perfect for us -- since all the blood donated stays in the New Jersey hospitals."

Within those two years of blood drives, the record was 86 donations, but Brown said this years' total toppled over the century mark, with an unofficial-final count of 103 Airmen donating.

"I'm very competitive," Brown said. "Right now, we lead the state in military units for most blood donated. My goal is always to do better than the last time."

That lead is due in part to Airmen like U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Brandon Staines, an egress specialist with the 177FW.

"It's really just a few minutes out of my day, but knowing how many lives it can save, it's definitely worth it," Staines said.

"Our goal here is to maximize the units of blood collected, and to save as many lives as we can within the state of New Jersey," DeLuccio said. "Each unit of blood collected can save up to three lives."

DeLuccio mentioned the success of the blood drive was not necessarily a shock to him, citing his more-than 20 years' experience in the Guard.

"The Guard always takes care of New Jersey ... so taking care of the hospital systems within the state like this is not surprising," said DeLuccio. "They really are the most giving people I have ever met."

When asked if he thought the desire to get out of work for a few hours may have been an influencer for some donors, DeLuccio said, "whatever it takes ... every day, these men and women have the potential to have to go out there and save lives, and by coming in here to give blood, they did just that."

Those looking for more information on blood drives sponsored by the Community Blood Council of New Jersey can reach DeLuccio at 609-883-9750, or visit www.GiveBloodNJ.org.