With summer in full swing the Texoma Regional Blood Center is gearing up for its annual Battle of the Badge series of blood drives. The city of Denison is looking to kick things off with the first drive which is set to take place July 9 at the Denison Fire Rescue Central Fire Station.

Donors will be able to give at that site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We’re looking to give back and do the best we can to be able to help out the community,” Denison Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Micah Daugherty said. “We host the drive but some of our guys will give too.”

Daugherty said the fire department enjoys the friendly competition with the Denison Police Department.

“The motivation is knowing the fact that giving a small amount of blood could be the difference between life and death for somebody,” he said. “These blood dries are important. When there is any kind of traumatic injury or major surgery, there has to be blood on standby even if they don’t use it, it has to be available.”

On July 10, the Denison PD will be hosting its drive at the police department.

“It saves lives and we have a lot of fun doing it,” Denison Lt. Mike Eppler said. “It is an honor to get to serve the community. We love to do it and see the community come out to support whoever it is they support, it helps saves lives. It is the best thing any of us can do is give the gift of life.”

Texoma Regional Blood Center Donor Recruiter Brandy Barnard said the summer months are the slowest for giving blood so the contest is a way to boost those donations.

“Right now there is a nationwide shortage for blood,” Barnard said. “We have been having a really hard time keeping it on the shelf. We’re looking to fill our shelves. Any help we can get to get us through the summer months will help.”

She said before giving, people need to be sure to eat a good meal and drink plenty of water. She also said it is important to report any medications before donating.

This is the 15th year the blood center has teamed up with area law enforcement and first responders to sponsor the summer drive.

Barnard said donors can receive a ballot for their favorite department at any participating location. Individuals do have to donate in order to cast a ballot, and all donors receive a snack and t-shirt.

Anyone over the age of 17 can donate as long as they do not have any heart conditions.

For more information or a list of qualifications to donate, visit http://www.TexomaBlood.org.