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Give a pint, get a pint

The Common Block Brewing Company hosted its third annual “Pint for Pint” blood drive Thursday afternoon, offering a voucher for one free drink to donors.

Christina Martin, an account manager for the Red Cross who organizes local blood drives, acknowledged this year’s event worked a little differently — with the Red Cross now scheduling appointments to manage the flow of incoming donors, and with donor blood now being tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Trying to collect blood donations during the pandemic, however, has been a challenge. Since March, Martin has had to cancel about 60 blood drives in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties.

Government offices, call centers and now high schools have all canceled scheduled drives, she said, with Rogue River, Phoenix and Ashland high schools being the latest to cancel in September.

Local churches such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Grants Pass have been stepping up, said Martin.

Common Block started sponsoring blood drives in 2018, when Martin, who was looking to target younger donors, reached out to breweries in the area.

“We weren’t seeing the Generation Xers, and what do Generation Xers do? They go drink beer at these brewing companies,” she said. “The pint gets people signed up.”

In addition to the annual drive, Common Block partnered with the Red Cross to host two blood drives in April when shutdown orders were taking effect. This time they offered free meals for donors. The first drive April 2 saw 31 donors, with 14 first-timers, come to the restaurant. The second drive April 9 saw 34 donors, with 17 first-timers, according to Martin.

She said the Red Cross scheduled 31 people for appointments Thursday. The Red Cross blood mobile parked in a shady spot across the street from Common Block between noon and 6 p.m., offering donors some relief during the 100-plus degree heat while they waited their turn to roll up their sleeves and donate.

Applegate resident Jim Sartorio said he and his wife have donated blood regularly in the past. Since the pandemic, they have come into the Medford area to run errands only once a week to limit their time out, but they both donated at the Common Block blood drive in April.

Sartorio said he and his wife believe in helping medical workers, especially during this time, and that the voucher from Common Block for a free alcoholic or nonalcoholic drink was not their main motivator.

“It’s always nice that they do something, but that’s not why we do it,” he said.

Common Block Brewing's Rachel Roning pours a pint, with the blood mobile parked across the street. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune