SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) –This month marks three years since the start of the pandemic and the abrupt change to many daily routines. As people try returning to old patterns, one place still waiting for a return is the Community Blood Bank in Sioux Falls.

Avery Husby is a student in the Nursing Program at USF. She donates blood multiple times a year.

“When I was 16, my parents signed my first consent form for me to donate,” Husby said. “Why do you keep coming back? It’s just a good feeling. Knowing that I can help with just one little poke from me can help a lot for somebody else.”

Members of the Community Blood Bank say they need more donors like Husby.

“Our goal is just to make sure that people understand and know that the need is here, and we’re critically in need of blood right now,” said Executive Director Ken Versteeg.

Versteeg says the call for blood has continued to increase over the last three years due to the rise of COVID-19 and its variants, along with cold and flu seasons and the population increase in Sioux Falls.

In the last few months, the snow and ice have also been disrupting blood drives. So far this year, they have canceled two weeks’ worth of drives due to the weather. There’s just one problem.

“We’re not getting enough people to come in and donate to offset that,” said Program Coordinator Laurie Hoffman.

The Community Blood Bank supplies blood, plasma, and platelets for 38 local hospitals, including Sanford Medical Center and Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. On average, the need for blood has increased from 450 units a week to around 600 units. But the blood bank’s only bringing in around half that.

“We really, really do need people to come out and give because we’re experiencing the same amount of traumas, the same amount of surgeries that are taking place as we would any other time of the year,” Versteeg said.

Program Coordinator Lori Hoffman says they are also running into another obstacle.

“A lot of our donor base that we have in the community is aging out, they’re getting older, they’re having medical issues, being on certain medications, where it’s not as easy for them to give anymore,” Hoffman said.

Which is why they are pushing for younger donors at high schools and college campuses, like this one.

“There is no substitute for blood. There’s- you can only get it from another person. And I think it’s something to think about when you hear that blood is needed,” Hoffman said.

Husby is not only a student, she’s a patient care tech at Sanford Health and sees the growing need for donations.

“When patients do need a blood transfusion, I mean, it is a dire need for them,” Husby said.

Which is why now more than ever those at the Community Bank asking everyone to donate a pint to save lives.

Donation drives take place daily around Sioux Falls as well as at Avera and Sanford’s donor rooms.