Three days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Flagstaff residents arrived in droves at the Northern Arizona University Union on Wednesday to donate blood for the victims.
All slots had been booked as of Sunday and some walk-in donations were turned away.
According to United Blood Services of Arizona, more than 180 people set up appointments to donate blood on Wednesday and Thursday.
Blood drive coordinator Lynnae Zgurich said the amount of blood donated could be used for 540 people in need.
“It is a really big day for blood donations; unfortunately it is following the largest mass shooting in history,” Zgurich said. “But it is amazing to see people stepping up to help.”
The donors ranged from students to longtime residents, motivated to do their part after a tragedy.
Student Ben Aguila made an appointment to donate blood after seeing the Las Vegas shooting on television.
“I just wanted to help any way I could after I saw what happened,” Aguila said. “The victims did not deserve what happened to them and if I can give some blood to help then I am going to do that.”
Flagstaff resident Ernie Martinez is a longtime blood donor and was planning on making a trip to the blood bank, but the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history was extra motivation to help out.
“I give blood all the time and Vegas was another reason for me to donate,” Martinez said. “It is times like this that people need blood the most.”
NAU student Kay Rippy was listening to the radio when she heard about the shooting. She was inspired to donate blood after seeing her showgirl cousin wait in line for hours in Las Vegas to donate blood.
“My cousin really gave me the kick in the butt to go and donate blood,” Rippy said. “After seeing what happened in Vegas and then the community response made me get an appointment right away.”
Some people were disappointed when they were unable to donate.
Jill Navran was not allowed to give a donation because she is currently on antibiotics. She said the shooting in Las Vegas hit close to home because she visited the city the week before for the Life is Beautiful Music Festival.
“I tried to give blood but I wasn’t able to, so that is a little disappointing,” Navran said. “It is just so scary to think about what happened because I was in Vegas last week for a music festival.”
Zgurich said she was not surprised about the donation turnout since people tend to come together after a tragedy.
“The shooting caught us all off guard, but I think it brought us together even more,” Zgurich said. “I wasn’t surprised that we had such a good turnout. People want to help when others are in need.”
Those looking to donate can do so at Coconino County Community College on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Go to bloodhero.com to set up an appointment. Walk-in appointments will also be accepted at tomorrow’s NAU event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. if reserved slots become vacant.