This feeling of helplessness when witnessing other people's pain and suffering is not a pleasant one. Sometimes people even feel guilty for not being hurt - especially during 9/11. What I find interesting is that the Red Cross has found a way to take advantage of this feeling. Whenever there's a crisis, the Red Cross runs ads along the lines of, "You can help. Give blood today, and ease the suffering of the people in China/Indonesia/Louisiana/New York City/Galvaston, TX."
Do you think your blood actually goes to those places? In most cases, probably not. But the Red Cross is able to sell the blood to hospitals that badly need it for those small every day crises - car crashes, train accidents, house fires, etc - and use that money to help in the larger disasters.
The Red Cross has found a way to let people help - and it's more than just giving money, or donating clothes. You give a piece of yourself- literally. So though I think the ads are a little misleading, I still think everyone ends up winning. The Red Cross helps people, and you feel like you did something to make a difference.
If you're interested in donating blood, look on the Give Life blood donation website. You can also read a list of blood donor guidelines.
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Photo courtesy of cayusa.