CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Delta Sigma Theta sorority organized a blood drive in conjunction with the American Red Cross, and bone-chilling subzero temperatures did not stop folks from rolling up their sleeves to donate.
"I know it's always a low blood supply and when this became one of our public service, I just wanted to come and support my chapter," said alumna Cathy Walker Murray.
Many participants, like Cameron McGarity, have donated blood before. McGarity is a universal donor, with blood type O-positive, and donates multiple times a year.
Javondlynn Dunagan, in contrast, was a first time donor and was nervous but was inspired by close friends who have witnessed the need for blood donations.
"When she told me that I was saving two lives, that made a huge difference. And I saw the amount of blood they took and it didn't take that long, maybe nine minutes, I was like, now I understand why people do this," she said.
The severe weather and seasonal illness has put a strain on an already historically low blood supply, which why sorority members said it's more important than ever to brave the elements and donate, especially for people of color.
"There are many diseases, sickle cell anemia and the like, where blood is needed. When you go to a hospital and need a transfusion, you want to be able to have your blood type there and available," said Shaunessye Curry, sorority alumna.
The sorority said more than 100 people signed up to donate blood, and they were taking walk-ins. Another blood drive is already being planned for June.
The Great Chicago Blood Drive is being held Wednesday and Thursday, January 17 and 18, at multiple locations throughout the Chicago area. The American Red Cross will be collecting blood for hospitals amid the emergency blood shortage. The snow and cold have forced the cancellation of blood drives, so the units are badly needed.
The Great Chicago Blood Drive is the largest American Red Cross blood drive in the country. For more information on locations and how to sign up to donate, click here.