It sounds like a catchy advertising slogan -- giving the gift of life -- but three Carroll County residents have been recognized by the American Red Cross for giving far more than their share.
Michael Ellis of Sykesville, Amy Myers of Mount Airy and Henry Diener of Taylorsville were among the 158 donors in the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region who were honored for donating 10 gallons of blood throughout their lives.
Last year, 180,000 blood donors in the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region supplied 90 percent of the blood used by more than 80 area hospitals.
Reaching the 10-gallon mark is no small feat, said Meg Paterson, a Red Cross spokeswoman, because donors are allowed to give only one pint of blood every 56 days, a maximum of six times a year. "Ten gallons really is lifelong giving," Ms. Paterson said.
The three Carroll County members donate regularly, trying to give at least four times a year.
Mr. Ellis, a computer programmer for the Social Security Administration, has been donating to the Red Cross for 20 years.
"It's the kind of thing where you're giving something back to the people. And it's easy enough to do," Mr. Ellis said. "The 80th donation was just like the 16th, just another one."
Mr. Diener, an electrical engineer at Westinghouse Corp., has been giving blood at least five times a year since the 1950s.
"It takes about as long as a haircut, and my barber is good but he doesn't serve cookies and juice," Mr. Diener said. "It's something you can do that does not put a lot of stress on time or the pocketbook."
Ms. Myers, who has been donating since she was 18, was surprised to learn she had reached the 10-gallon mark. "I didn't know I had done it, I just go and give," she said.
Ms. Myers said she donates because it is "security for the family" and because she is able to. "There always seems to be a short supply, so I do it," said Ms. Myers, who donates every 56 days.
"They are some of our absolute best donors, they are responsible for meeting an absolute critical need in the community," said David Simms, chief executive officer of the Red Cross Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services. "We wish we had a lot more people who were willing to do so [donate regularly]."