Have you ever seen the chaos and trouble in our world and felt like what do I have to give, what can I do? Have you felt that change only comes from big action and you don’t see yourself capable of that? It reminds me of a story where a man saw a boy tossing stranded starfish into the ocean. He told the boy “why are you doing that? It won’t make a difference to all these starfish – there are too many”. The boy replied as he was carrying another starfish to the water “It does to this one.

Remember that there are plenty of little actions we can do, that if we all do them, will make a huge difference in our world. I want to share with you this week some of those small actions that I have done and encourage you to do as well.

The first one today is donating blood. You don’t like needles? Neither do I. I look away when the needle goes in. You worry that you might faint or be dizzy after donating blood or get sick. I’m not saying that those things might not occasionally happen, though they have never happened to me in all the years I have been a blood donor. But there are several things you can do to mitigate the possibility of this happening.

Drink plenty of water, not just on the day of donation, but during the week before. It is something that we all need to do – hydration is beneficial to general health. Eat a good meal before and a good meal after giving blood so that your body is in good condition. Eating a good meal after helps your body build back better. Donors are encouraged to spend 10-15 minutes resting and having some juice and snacks after donation.

You might think you have some condition that would make you ineligible to donate, but you need to read up and make sure. There are some things, like a tattoo or body piercing, where you will have to wait a few months after to donate. There are some health issues that don’t result in waiting. I thought after I started taking medication for high blood pressure that I couldn’t donate, but after reading the guidelines I learned that I was mistaken. The same is true of diabetes.

You might wonder, why should I donate? For one thing, there is a high need for whole blood donations for surgery, auto accidents, and treatment of certain health conditions – like sickle cell anemia. There is a need for platelet donations and plasma, to treat other health conditions and situations. Your body can replace the donated blood over time and certain intervals are given for blood donation – like 8 weeks for whole blood for instance. I donate because there is a great need and I believe it is something I can do. I am in great health, as my dad was, and I am a blood donor like him.

If you try it and it doesn’t work for you- you feel nervous, get sick, etc, then at least you have tried. There may be another small action that is more suited to you. I don’t believe that blood donation is for everyone. I just believe that there are small actions we all can take to give back to our community and all of us together in our small ways can make a big difference in our world.

For more information on blood donation if you are in the Pacific Northwest you can contact Bloodworks Northwest and if you live elsewhere you can google blood donation or contact the American Red Cross. Tune in tomorrow for another small action.