The first-ever Battle of the Badges blood drives, pitting Arkansas City first responders against those from Winfield, will be held July 12-13.

“The rivalry between Arkansas City and Winfield will be used as a force for good, as the first responders in each city will team up to see who can recruit the most blood donors,” states a recent news release from the American Red Cross, promoting the new event.

Locals can support the Arkansas City Fire-EMS Department and Arkansas City Police Department by donating blood from noon to 6 p.m. July 13 at Central Christian Church, located at 206 W. Central Ave.

The Winfield Fire-EMS and Police departments will have their opportunity to help save lives and recruit the most blood donors during their drive from noon to 6 p.m. July 12 at First United Methodist Church, located at 1000 Millington St. in Winfield.

Battle of the Badges details

The number of blood donors at each drive will determine who wins this year’s bragging rights. Community members are encouraged to donate blood if they are able. All donors will receive a free T-shirt.

“Thank you to first responders for not only keeping the community safe, but also helping with blood collection this summer,” said Tammy Hunnell, Central Plains Blood Services Region account manager.

“These Battle of the Badges blood drives offer a way for residents of both cities to support their local heroes and help save lives by giving blood.”

The new Battle of the Badges initiative comes as the Red Cross recently launched the Missing Types campaign with a goal of bringing awareness to the great need for new blood donors to reverse a declining donor population.

For the past four years, new Red Cross blood donors have declined by about 80,000 each year. This is not just a Red Cross trend, but a challenge blood collection organizations face across the country and around the world.

How to donate blood

To make an appointment for the 2018 Arkansas City vs. Winfield Battle of the Badges blood drives, or for more information, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call (800) 733-2767 and use sponsor code ArkCityKS.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification, are required at check-in.

Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent, where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

High school students and other donors 18 years old or younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive.

To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

To prepare for a blood donation, make sure to drink plenty of fluids on the day of the donation.

Wear something comfortable to the appointment and make sure the sleeves of the clothing can be rolled up easily above the elbow.

If possible, include iron-rich foods in your diet in the weeks prior to a donation. Remember to hydrate before and after giving blood.

Bring a list of the medications you are taking — some prescriptions might disqualify you from giving blood.

Kiwanis Club involvement

The July 13 blood drive is just one of many organized annually through the efforts of the Arkansas City Kiwanis Club.

The mission of Kiwanis International is to improve the lives of children worldwide.

However, each club works in its own community to help to improve lives of the children locally.

“We work for the good of our community and specifically for the children of our community,” said Kiwanian Jack Dickson.

Service to others is at the heart of every club, which can be seen in the many service projects performed each year.

The 7,333 clubs worldwide stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise nearly $100 million every year for communities, families, and projects.

The club is always on the hunt for new members. It meets at noon almost every Tuesday in the meeting room at Daisy Mae’s Café.

“If you would like to be part of a vital and dedicated club that makes a difference in our community, we hope you will consider Kiwanis,” Dickson said.

American Red Cross media contact Jan Hale contributed to this story.