Columbus, GA (WTVM) - With blood supplies running low during the holidays and recent hurricane damage, friends and loved ones of Deonn Carter, a beloved community figure, held a blood drive in his honor.
Going into the holiday season, Ashley Martinez of Columbus was setting up the annual blood drive at the apartment complex where she works - but she had an idea to honor Carter, a much-loved figure in the Fountain City, whom she never got the chance to meet.
"Hearing the stories of the tragic event that unfolded, and then hearing about his life and how he had a zest for life and a joy for giving to others - we thought there was no better way than to give life during the season of giving," Martinez said.
Martinez also said she had to get approval from Carter's mom, Suzette Ragland.
"She said, 'Well we want to do it in memory to Deonn.' I was like, 'Well, there...that's just the sweetest thing I ever heard,'" Ragland said.
This year, the Deonn Carter Blood Drive will take all their donations to refill the American Red Cross' supply - something Johnny Williams, the regional manager for the organization, said is in high demand.
"The hurricane we just had, on the East Coast (Matthew) - that knocked out a lot of blood drives at that time, so our supply d ropped quite a bit," Williams said.
Williams said the process of donating blood could as long take 45 minutes, or quickly in 10 minutes. However, he said the important thing is that donating one pint of blood donation can save three lives.
Martinez said she's enjoyed working with local Red Cross technicians to set up the drive.
"This team, they've been with us a little over a year. We've had the same team. Great technicians who make it very painless, very seamless," Martinez said.
In the end, Ragland said she knows Deonn would be happy to know how many lives will be affected.
"We all want to love like Deonn," Ragland said. "And as far as giving, I mean, just give from your heart; mean it from your heart. I just think that all Deonn did give me, all those 31 years, was straight from the heart."
All the blood donated here in Columbus will make its way to the Georgia Red Cross headquarters in Atlanta, where it will be distributed out to banks all over the South.