More than a month after a tornado ripped through the center of Joplin, destroying business, homes and schools, MCC-Blue River is stepping up to make a difference in the lives of those left to pick up the pieces.

More than a month after a tornado ripped through the center of Joplin, destroying business, homes and schools, MCC-Blue River is stepping up to make a difference in the lives of those left to pick up the pieces.

“I was shocked and saddened (when I heard of what happened in Joplin,” said David Owens, instructor and Trailblazers coach at MCC-Blue River. “I am originally from the Northwest, where we don’t worry about tornados. Until the recent tornados in Joplin and the across the South, I was completely unaware that they could cause damage on such an immense scale. Like everyone, I have a big desire to help out with more than just a monetary contribution.”

MCC-Blue River will host a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Campus Center on the MCC-Blue River campus, 20301 E. Missouri 78.

Owens said the Community Blood Center is working to resupply western Missouri with blood as most of its resources have gone to Joplin. In addition, blood drives normally scheduled during the summer in Joplin have mostly been canceled because of the disaster, and the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is looking for ways to replace those blood drives.

“In the aftermath of the tornado in Joplin, the Community Blood Center in Kansas City shipped life-saving blood to the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks. The extra people that donated blood in Kansas City and the Ozarks met the immediate need for blood,” he said. “However, keeping an adequate blood supply is an ongoing process. The CBC of the Ozarks asked for help from the CBC in Kansas City in replacing the blood drives that will be lost this summer in Joplin due to the tornado. We host two very successful blood drives each year and were more than happy to help out.”

Those who decide to donate blood will not only be helping the community, but can also earn points from the Community Blood Center that can be accumulated and redeemed for rewards. Appointments to donate can be made on the Internet at www.savealifenow.org. Enter the sponsor code “blue river” to receive reward points for the donation. Owens said he hopes to collect at least 25 units of blood during the drive.

“Over the past year school year, Blue River has collected 80 units of blood from three separate blood drives,” he said. “Not everyone that attempts to give blood is able to do so, so we need as many people as possible in order to reach our goal.”

The blood drive is not the only project MCC-Blue River is helping to organize to help with relief efforts. More than 55 volunteers from the MCC system are heading to Joplin July 1 to help with storm clean-up.

“MCC-Blue River is always there to help. We are always raising money or collecting items to assist those that have been less fortunate,” said Gabby DeMoss, an instructor at MCC-Blue River. “We were given a choice, data entry, answering phones, clean-up, etc. We choice to do clean-up. One of our coworkers has family in Joplin, and my first thought was ‘I hope they are OK.’ Then you just feel you want to help everyone.”