The annual Battle of the Badges blood drive begins Thursday and extends through the holiday season.
Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputies compete against the Wichita and Sedgwick County fire departments in an effort to have the most donors during the friendly competition.
Residents can participate by donating blood and voting for either law enforcement or the fire department. They also get a free T-shirt for donating blood.
The Midway Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross is bringing back sloppy joes for donors who donate on Saturdays during the drive, as well as on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The fire department has won the past two “battles,” and fire officials said Tuesday they’re intent on making it three in a row. The Red Cross hopes to receive 905 pints of blood and 458 units of platelets during the drive, spokeswoman Cari Merrill said.
The drive is held because the holiday season typically sees a decrease in blood donations due to travel or conflicts with holiday events and activities, Merrill said.
“Right now, we’re meeting patient needs,” she said, “but winter time is always a difficult time of year” for donations.
Hours of operation during the special blood drive at the Wichita Donation Center, 707 N. Main, are: