Cheri Wood donates blood regularly and was on track to donate a total of nine gallons by June.
America is filled with ordinary people performing extraordinary acts of service and sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Cheri Wood fits that description perfectly. She has felt the call to render assistance ever since a life-changing event more than 40 years ago.
Armed with the knowledge that, according to the American Red Cross, one pint of donated blood can potentially save up to three lives, she figures she has potentially saved up to 207 lives.
Wood also serves the Old Dominion State full-time as a quality and training supervisor for the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) Customer Service Center in Salem.
"My dad was in a car wreck in 1978 and needed immediate surgery, but they didn't have enough blood in the blood bank," she remembered. "They put out a call over the local radio and TV stations asking for blood donations to help my dad.
"Thankfully, there were enough people that responded, and dad was able to get his surgery."
Wood is thankful for VDOT's Community Service Leave program, which allows her to take the time needed to donate. The agency initiative gives eligible VDOT employees up to 16 hours of paid leave time per leave year to provide their voluntary services to the community.
Although Wood was a young girl when the accident happened, she was old enough to understand how the blood donations made a difference not only in her father's life, but in the well-being of her family's.
"I just determined, when I got old enough, I wanted to give back," she said. "So, when I turned 18, I started donating."
The Red Cross allows a person to donate blood every 56 days, but one must be in good health.
"Through the years there have been instances when I haven't been able to donate," she explained, "but I tried to stick to the ‘every 56 days' as much as humanly possible."
Because of the program, she was on track to donate a total of nine gallons by June.
"Every time I give, I do it in memory of my dad, Charlie Martin, because others cared enough to donate for him," she said. "As long as I'm able, I'll continue to donate because I know it is making a difference."
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