Delaware County firefighters and peace officers will go head to head this month during the annual Guns-N-Hoses blood drive.
The friendly competition that dates back to 1996 comprises 10 planned blood drives throughout the county. Each donor can cast a vote for firefighters or peace officers. Donors also receive a buy-one-get-one-free ticket to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
County firefighters take a majority of the votes and the bragging rights that come with them each year, but that doesn't mean the police officers and their supporters have given up. After all, "it is the recipients of these blood donations who truly win," said Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin.
The competition provides a spike in donations each year during the summer season when the demand for blood often exceeds supply.
Jennifer Clark, a senior donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross' Central Ohio chapter, said Delaware County is on track to collect 1,000 pints of blood this year. That's a steep increase from two years ago, when just 200 pints were collected.
"The Delaware County peace officers and fire departments have really done an excellent job of helping bring attention to the need for the donation of blood," she said.
"It's an opportunity to recognize our first responders," Clark added. "Donors can come out and donate in honor of them."
The competition kicked off Tuesday, June 25, with the first blood drive at Sunbury United Methodist Church.
Other scheduled drives are:
•July 5, Genoa Township Hall, 5111 S. Old 3C Highway, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
•July 9, Liberty Township Community Building, 7761 Liberty Road, 2 to 7 p.m.
•July 10, Mingo Park, 500 E. Lincoln Ave., Delaware, 1 to 7 p.m.
•July 12, Concord Community Center, 6385 Home Road, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
•July 16, Orange Township Hall, 1680 East Orange Road, 1 to 7 p.m.
•July 20, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
•July 23, Sunbury Town Hall, 9 E. Granville St., 1 to 7 p.m.
•July 25, William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St., Delaware, noon to 6 p.m.
•July 31, Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org.