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He’s the first to admit that the first time wasn’t necessarily out of benevolence. He and his Sigma Nu fraternity brothers at Auburn University were on a quest for “spirit points” to earn better seating at the football games.

Now, 10-plus gallons later, Huntsville City Council Member Mark Russell eagerly and considerably more nobly is still donating units of his O-Positive blood.

Russell was recently presented his “10 Gallon Pin” by the American Red Cross for his donation; he’s well over that total when donations to other organizations in the past are factored in.

“As an adult, I’ve gone into it with all good intentions,” says Russell, who represents the City’s District 2. “It’s neat to help somebody you don’t know. It’s interesting to think you might help somebody. It’s a small act on my part, but it might be a big deal for them and their family.”

The Red Cross and other organizations in that realm are always in need of donors. According to the Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. The organization says that 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, but less than 10 percent of that population does so on a regular basis.

Helping someone you don’t know, there’s great joy in that.”

In the Huntsville area, available donors are more scarce than other cities. There are greater restrictions on eligibility than in the past, and they include disqualification to donate for certain periods of time depending upon overseas travel and military service. That eliminates a sizeable chunk of the population in a city with a military presence and an international economy.

“That makes it more important that those of who can give do so,” Russell says.

As you’d expect, he has no fear of needles, though Russell confesses the worst part is being pricked in the finger for the initial testing.

“It’s the anticipation, I guess. It kills me,” he says. “Once I get that done, I’m fine.”

Russell is a long-time high school football official and one of his colleagues is Rev. Travis Collins, at First Baptist Church. They’ve had some discussions about benevolence and giving.

“This is being a modern-day Good Samaritan,” Russell says. “Helping someone you don’t know, there’s great joy in that.

“As Travis says, ‘God has wired us such that there is great joy in crossing the road when someone is hurting on the other side.’”

Fortunately, neither Russell nor anyone in his family has been in need of blood.

“So, it hasn’t been self-serving at all,” he says. “Except for those football tickets.”