Free stuff

Be a blood donor and tap a vein of free swag

Give blood. If not for the needy, at least for your own apartment decorating.

At one lowpoint or another, you’ve surely considered giving of yourself in truly personal ways: selling your eggs, trafficking your sperm, being a guinea pig, putting your dirty crotchwear up for sale, or, if you’re like some of our more enterprising female friends, participating in the seemingly always-casting foot fetish parties in the city.

Let us instead make a pitch for something slightly more socially rewarding than letting your sperm set up franchises all across the country: did you know that every donation you make with the NY Blood Center earns you points for prizes from their Amazon-like selection of electronics, gift cards, sporting equipment, DVDs and more? Since you could be donating almost nine PBRs worth of blood throughout the year, you could earn something as swank as an air-hockey table, a guitar or a even a rack of lamb in just a few months? And you get a free STD test out of it too. It’s true!

The blood center system is set up like a less-rigged version of the boardwalk skeeball prize center: Depending on what kind of promotion your donation center is offering (based on need and time of year), you will get at least 50 points each time for a regular blood donation, plus an additional 25 points if you donate more than once a year. Since you can donate blood every 56 days, that’s 488 points a year.

The real money is in platelets: you get 75 points for each donation, plus bonuses for donating frequently or during critical-need periods (one of which ends today!) and for donating on Mondays or Sundays. It’s a much longer and slightly grueling process, but you can donate them every three days up to 24 times a year. At a conservative average of 100 points a pop (counting more points bonuses you’ll get), that’s 2,400 points in a year, which, added with the above and a yearly points bonus, brings it to 2,963 points a year.

If you’ve never given blood before, it’s a snap, and savvy donors can be in and out in 20 minutes. The process for platelets is a bit draining (literally and figuratively) because it can take up to two hours. Some blood centers have TV screens attached to the donor chairs for this reason.

If you’re maximizing your donations, that’s roughly 130 minutes a year for blood donations, 48 hours a year for platelets. You might feel a little woozy for a bit afterward, but your safety is not at risk.

Seriously: you can earn this for donating blood.

Super Scrabble is a mere 839 points. Blue Ray DVDs clock in at between 500-600 points. You can practically get two of the aforementioned air hockey tables at 1,675 points each. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is cheaper (1,272) than this Frenched rack of pork (2,031), which you can cook in this large deep fryer for 1,272 points and still have enough left to win this awesome floating, water-squirting starfighter inflatable.

Or, if these goods don’t intrigue you, try gift cards: a $75 gift card to places like Barnes and Noble and Target costs cost you 1,500 points. See the whole list here.

Every time the blood mobile shows up in front of Regal Cinemas on Court Street, they send you a free, unlimited movie ticket! They usually hold a drive there once a month but check the schedule. Unlimited ticket means you can use it for fancy 3D movies too. And since 3D movies will run you $17, that’s like making $51 an hour.

Since platelets require more effort on your part, they up the ante: donate before the end of August and you will get two free Mets tickets in the mail. You don’t get to choose the game (or, for that matter, make the Mets any better), but it’s free baseball!

And you get a free screening out of it too: the Blood Center tests your blood for diseases (HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, syphilis, West Nile Virus, etc.) and lets you know if anything shows up.

While you have the chance to donate whole blood at any number of bloodmobiles around the borough, the Blood Center’s only Brooklyn location was closed this past year after its roof collapsed during one of the snow storms (hey, remember snow??). If you’re giving platelets, you’ll have to go into the city: the nearest one is at 200 Park Ave.

Scared of needles? Good, you need a little fear in your life. But you know who’s probably not scared of needles? Any of the 2,000 people in hospitals awaiting donations every day in the New York/New Jersey area, including cancer patients, accident, burn or trauma victims, patients undergoing surgery or a transplant, newborn babies and so forth. And there’s always shortages.

If you’ve ever gotten a shot or even an allergy test, the sensation is the same. If blood makes you squeamish, turn your head and look the other way and think of all that sweet deep-fried air hockey you’ll be playing later knowing you’ve done a good deed.


  1. Tim Donnelly

    I can’t believe they still do that! Wasn’t there a movement at one point at NYU for students to lie about their sexual orientation for blood drives? It’s not like they don’t test the blood before using it, obviously. Unless gay is contagious now. In which case …. things are about to get pretty crazy around here.

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