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From giving to getting, McGowan knows value of donating blood
Carolina Family Matters: Take control of your heating costs this winter

From giving to getting, McGowan knows value of donating blood

On a typical day on campus, Mike McGowan can be found patrolling the streets as a parking control officer with the Department of Public Safety.

Roll up your sleeves

There will be several blood drives on campus in the next few weeks, all providing needed relief at a crucial time for area blood banks.

The Facilities Services blood drive will be held on Dec. 2 at the Giles Horney Building from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To make an appointment, call Gena Everhart (962-0764) or Ed Phillips (962-8069). Appointments also can be made online at

The Winter Blood Drive will be held on Dec. 20 at Woollen Gym from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Donors can register online to donate beginning Nov. 28 at, or call 96-BLOOD ext. 229 to register by phone. To volunteer at the event, e-mail

The same web site,, is also the place to go if you want to find all the other blood drives on campus at this or any other time of the year.

Log into the start page with your e-mail address and birth date, and you can find out what drives are coming up, select a location and time to give, and you’ll even receive a reminder by e-mail when you’re eligible to give again.

Accustomed to looking out for those around him — and to being a regular blood donor for 22 years while serving in the armed forces— McGowan had the tables turned on him in August of 2001 when he was diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery. During the operation he required emergency blood transfusions, and thanks to dedicated donors in the Carolinas region, the blood he needed was in the bank for his use.

McGowan is understandably reluctant to talk with strangers about his illness, but in May this year he shared his story with a roomful of recruiters before the summer Carolina Blood Drive.

McGowan said that after he spoke one of the recruiters told him, “It’s amazing how you made us laugh and cry all at once.” Others thanked him for his willingness to talk about his experience, saying they “truly appreciated the courage it takes to speak.”

Along with his personal experience, McGowan also told the recruiters that some of his co-workers planned to donate blood for the first time at the drive, and that he planned on being there for them.

As McGowan approaches his five-year milestone of being cancer-free, he looks forward to being able to donate regularly again. And he looks forward to the day he can walk into a Carolina blood drive alongside his co-workers who were once “first-timers” and continue to give the gift of life.

Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, but only 5 percent of the eligible donors give blood each years. Healthy donors are the only source for blood; there is no substitute.

Blood is needed for emergencies and for people who have illnesses such as cancer, blood disorders and sickle cell anemia. Some people need regular blood transfusions to live.

Just think: If it took you a minute to read this, that’s another 30 people in need of blood.  

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Take control of your heating costs this winter

With gas prices up and future costs uncertain, this is the time to start planning for winter heating.

Unfortunately, with prices rising, it’s estimated that the cost of heating a home this year could be up as much as 50 percent or more.

The good news is that with a few money-saving tips, you can reduce your heating costs.  

Check your home for heat leaks. Check doors, windows, fireplaces and other areas that feel drafty.

Use weather stripping, plastic, caulk or other means to close off the leaks.

If your home is not well insulated, the cost of improved insulation will pay for itself in the reduction of heating costs.

If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter. This will prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If you can’t remove it, buy an inexpensive cover to prevent drafts.

If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, be sure that the damper seals tightly and remains closed except when a fire is burning or smoldering.  

Make sure heating registers and vents are not blocked by draperies, furniture or rugs. These vents should also be cleaned regularly with a vacuum or a broom.

Limit the use of your bathroom ventilation fan. The fan can pull a large amount of heated air out of the home in a very short amount of time.

Don’t heat areas of your house that you don’t use. In areas like a guest room, close vents and doors and turn back thermostats.

Keep your heating equipment in good working condition. Change filters monthly, and have your equipment checked on an annual basis.

It is a good idea to turn down your thermostat when you are sleeping or not at home, but be careful not to turn it down too low. Going too low can cost more by making your thermostat work harder to reheat your home. A good guide is 68-70 degrees while you are home and awake and 60-65 degrees while you sleep or are not at home.

Alternatively, a programmable thermostat is a great investment and an easy way to raise and lower temperatures at predetermined times

Use the sun to your advantage. Open the blinds and curtains on the sunny side of your home (the south-facing side) when the sun is shining and close them as soon as the sun goes down to retain the solar heat. Close curtains on the shady side of the house (north-facing side).

Keep those ceiling fans whirling. Reversing the direction of the blades pushes warm air down into the room. Fans should turn clockwise in the summer and counter-clockwise in the winter.  

If your water heater is in an unheated space like an unfinished basement, wrap it in an insulation blanket available at hardware stores to prevent heat loss.

Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.

It’s tempting to stand under a hot shower on a cold morning, but cutting your shower time in half can save up to 33 percent on your hot water heating costs.

If you find that you or someone that you know is in need of assistance paying for the cost of heat this winter, contact the power or gas company. They may have special programs or payment plans to help with the added costs.

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