13 reasons why giving blood after Orlando matters so much.

On the morning of June 12, 2016, people lined up at a local blood bank in St. Petersburg, Florida, ready to wait for hours.

Following the deadly overnight attacks at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left (at the time of writing) 50 dead and another 53 wounded, local blood banks and hospitals put out calls for blood donations to help treat the injured.

People turned up in droves.


FBI agents outside Pulse nightclub June 12 in Orlando, Florida, after a fatal shooting and hostage situation. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

Just over 100 miles west of Orlando in St. Petersburg, a city known for hosting Florida's largest Pride parade each year, the wait to donate blood at one OneBlood location topped two hours — with dozens more donors making appointments to come back later in the week.

Families arrived together, with teenagers asking how old they had to be to donate too. Family members and spouses of OneBlood employees came to take names for appointment times and hand out snacks and water. Donors volunteered to bring more supplies. Everyone was looking for any way they could find to help — no matter how small.

Though OneBlood's Sunday hours usually end at noon, the organization pledged to stay open as long as donors were still in line.

Here are what 13 blood donors in St. Petersburg had to say in their own words:

1. "We have to show the world there is more good in it than bad."

"I'm donating because we have to show the world there is more good in it than bad. Hate is NOT the answer." — Jamie, St. Petersburg. Photos by Caitlin Duffy/Welcometoterranova.

2. "I want to help make a difference."

"I’m donating because I’m a nurse and I want to help make a difference." — Mallory, 25, Pinellas Park, Florida.

3. "I believe that the tragic event in Orlando last night highlights our nation's increasing problem of gun violence."

"My name is Julien Turner, I'm here on vacation in St. Petersburg, visiting my sisters and mother. I'm currently living in Portsmouth, NH. I believe that the tragic event in Orlando last night highlights our nation's increasing problem of gun violence, which calls for solidarity of Americans in general, and domestic violence at large. I'd like to support the victims in the best way possible, by giving blood per The American Red Cross' request." — Julien, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

4. "I felt compelled to do anything I could to help those affected."

"In the wake of the Orlando Pulse tragedy, I felt compelled to do anything I could to help those affected. When I received the text from One Blood saying my blood type was scarce, I knew immediately that I should be donating today!" — Karla, 29, St. Petersburg.

5. "There is a crisis within our Community right now."

"My wife and I are donating because there is a crisis within our Community right now. We feel the best way we can help is by donating blood. Our thoughts are with our fellow lgbtsq's and thier families." — Erin and Andrea, 40 and 39, St. Petersburg.

6. "Regardless of any reasons of why, or other speculations on the shooter, I'm doing this to help those who were affected by this horrible act."

"I felt a strong responsibility to help when I heard the news this morning. Regardless of any reasons of why, or other speculations on the shooter, I'm doing this to help those who were affected by this horrible act. If my donation can help, I want to help. I'm sure many here share the same sentiments. #PrayForOrlando." — Jennifer, 34, St. Petersburg.

7. "I feel helpless in the face of this targeted attack against the lgbtq community."

"Im donating today because i feel helpless in the face of this targeted attack against the lgbtq community" — Chris, 32, St. Petersburg.

8. "People like me deserve to live in safety and health."

"Im giving blood because im queer and people like me deserve to live in safety and health." — Keeli, 20, St. Petersburg.

9. "God not only calls us to pray in times like these, but He also calls us to action."

"I’m donating because it’s an easy way to help make a difference in response to such a senseless tragedy. God not only calls us to pray in times like these, but He also calls us to action." — Kelsey, 24, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

10. "I am donating because my heart aches."

“I am donating because my heart aches for these kids that were tragically taken away last night." — Frank, St. Petersburg.

11. "I'm donating because I wanted to do something positive."

"I’m donating because I wanted to do something positive in the midst of all the horror." — Michelle, 54, St. Petersburg.

12. "I want to help in the only way I know."

"I am donating because I want to help in the only way I know during the tragic time." — Lisa, 33, Largo, Florida.

13. "We cannot let ourselves and our culture to be controlled by hate and fear."

"I am donating blood as a way to fight against hate. This attack in Orlando was a targeted attack against a group that already feels a lot of pressure and fear just to be themselves. We cannot let ourselves and our culture to be controlled by hate and fear. While I am not part of the LGBT community myself, I have many wonderful family members, friends and co-workers that are, and this is a way to support them. My little bit of time and blood can save a life, and this is the most ethical thing I can do." — Evan, 22, St. Petersburg.

In the wake of a tragedy, there are always people willing to help in any way they can.

On June 12, 2016, over 50 families woke up to the worst kind of phone call. The families of others waited, terrified, outside a hospital for news of their loved ones.

The blood, platelets, and plasma donated by strangers in the wake of this, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, will help hospitals treat not just the victims and survivors of the attack on Pulse nightclub, but those injured by gun violence tomorrow and in the future as well.

That's what makes everyone who turned out at blood donation centers — and the compassion that motivated them to do so in the wake of this attack on the LGBTQ community — so important, so necessary, and so appreciated.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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