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Our blood donation rules need a makeover. Let's start with who is allowed to give.

Who could be donating blood that isn’t? One answer: Queer men.

Despite the desperate need for blood donations, very few people who can donate blood in the United States actually do.

"Of the eligible donors — and I think about 38% are eligible to actually donate — there's probably about 3 or 4% that actually do donate. That's alarming," said Red Cross spokesman Joe Zydlo in a recent interview.

The American Red Cross released more statistics about blood donation ahead of World Blood Donor Day on June 14.


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

The surprising number knocks a lot of misconceptions about blood donation in America. Someone in the U.S. needs a blood donation every two seconds, according to the Red Cross. And yet, the low number of blood donation rates means that those in need of blood aren’t being served.

It begs the question: Who could be donating blood that isn’t?

One answer: Queer men.

Photo by Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images.

Though queer men can technically donate blood, there's still some pretty homophobic red tape blocking real progress.

In 2015, the Red Cross lifted the lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. But, the flawed rule only applies to men who haven’t had sex with other men within a year of donation.

Dating back to antiquated U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laws from 1983, gay men were originally prohibited from donating blood entirely due to stigma about gay men as the HIV panic grew in the United States. Gay men and queer activists fought the laws for decades, ultimately finding some success in the 2015 FDA guidance, which states, "Defer for 12 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months."

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The guidance, while a step in the right direction, is still rightly criticized as being biased and not doing enough to open the pool of donors.

For example, when the Pulse massacre happened in 2016, numerous queer men attempted to step up and help the queer community by donating to shooting victims, only to be turned away by blood donation centers.

From mass shootings, to fatal natural disasters, blood donations centers are always in need of committed donors. It's imperative we accept as many willing donors as possible, regardless of sexual activity or preference.

So, how do we make sure that those in need get help while also working toward a more inclusive society?

For starters, you can donate. Visit the Red Cross's blood donation page to figure out if you're eligible to give blood, and when you can do it.

In addition, get familiar with the FDA's blood donation recommendations, and talk to your local lawmakers about the importance of pushing the FDA commissioner to study more equitable recommendations for blood donation.

It’s long overdue that we open the opportunity to all people regardless of sexual identity and history. When we do this, not only do we help those in need, we foster a society that is rightly inclusive for everyone.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

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via Pixabay

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