By Hayley Wielgus
TYLER (KYTX) - Dennis Cullinane, Executive Director of the East Texas Food Bank, is helping fill the blood bank at Carter Blood Care.
"You have to walk the talk," Cullinane said. "This is a very important donation people need to make as well as to the food bank."
Cullinane is the first official donor to Fill the Banks, a drive benefiting the East Texas Food Bank and Carter Blood Care.
"We both have shared the fact that we're banks and we've gone through some tough times during the holidays where our stocks are depleted," Cullinane said.
Both organizations have tough needs to fill. Nearly 430,000 East Texans are at risk of hunger and it takes 1,000 donors a day for Carter Blood Care to meet requests for blood transfusions.
"Whenever it doesn't knock at your door, you don't fully understand it," Pastor James Earl Dill said.
Two years ago, Dill needed a blood transfusion and the supply came from Carter Blood Care.
"Im so grateful for the people that have given blood," Dill said. "I will never meet them, but my heart goes out to say a hearty thanks."
People in all sectors of the East Texas community are coming together to support the drive. Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith grew up facing hunger as a child of a poor family in Arkansas.
"A baby, a child going to bed hungry at night it affects you mentally; it affects the learning process; it affects you in school the next day," Smith said.
Sheriff Smith said for struggling families, even small donations make a difference.
"They really fill a big need in East Texas," he said. "If you get an opportunity to help the food bank, I would ask that you do that."
You can drop off food donations at any Tyler Fire Department station or the East Texas Food Bank. Blood donations can be made at Carter Blood Care centers across East Texas.
One lucky Fill the Banks registered donor will win an XBOX 360 with KINECT game system. To sign up and for more information visit www.fillthebanks.org .