Days after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, local residents are still waiting for hours to give blood to the injured. Those standing in line reflect the diversity of cultures and religions in the city.
“I felt so sad what happened on Sunday with the victims and their families, and I wanted to come out and support our community and help and donate blood,” said Renee Lee who is African-American.
Hanh Nguyen, who is Buddhist, said she came to the United Blood Services donation center because of her faith.
“I love people. That’s why I’m coming here (to) donate blood,” Nguyen said.
“You have to come together as a community to help when these things happen. We need to have each other’s back,” said Erika Stanley who is an immigrant from Ecuador and a hairstylist.
She said many of her clients are afraid to go to events or work on the Las Vegas Strip where the shooting took place.
“You cannot live by fear. This is what they (terrorists) want — these people. I don’t know what’s in this guy’s head, but you can’t live like that. You just have to move on.”
For many residents, that means giving blood.
More than 100 people lined up outside the blood donation center before the doors even opened. Some of them came the day before, went home after an eight hour wait, and came back for another try.
On a typical day in Las Vegas, the blood donation centers collect blood from about 200 donors. Now, they are collecting blood from 700 people.
“I’m coming here to (give) a helping hand. To help (my) neighbor.” Vietnamese-American resident Anh Ha continued, “We have to unite together, everybody (give) a helping hand.”
Away from the flashing lights and glamour of the Las Vegas casinos, residents say this is a side of Las Vegas the tourists do not see but has always been here.
“We’re not just some gambling casino town that’s that profits from everybody’s travel, that we can get together as a community and we can actually support each other and have this amazing bond with all of our residents,” said long-time resident Steven Cooley.
He said it is a bond that goes beyond political beliefs and language barriers.
Chinese-American Min Yin explained the reason why he and hundreds of other residents do not mind standing in line for hours.
“When I saw what happened on the news, I was shocked, so many people injured and died. I feel that I need to do something,” Yin said.
Vietnamese-American Yen Muñoz is a nurse from Dallas. She came to Las Vegas for a nursing conference. She said the multicultural backgrounds of the donors struck her.
“What a diverse turnout this is. This is beautiful to see everyone kind of get together and do something good cause we’re all kind of the same on the inside,” Muñoz said.
In sharp contrast to the mass shooting, Mitzy Edgecomb, spokesperson for the company Blood Systems said these donors are proof “that people are truly good, and they want to do good things.”