BELGRADE — Organizers of a 9/11 memorial blood drive say they were disappointed with a low turnout Thursday but hope that more people will donate blood at other blood drives Friday.

“I think a lot of people are waiting to donate (in Augusta) because they have some good giveaways and incentives,” said Alan Pratt, in charge of the staff Thursday at the American Red Cross blood drive at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons. “I think, too, that people like to wait until the actual date of 9/11 to honor those who died in the terrible tragedy.”

Five people had donated blood by about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, when just a half-hour was left in the event, which began at 10 a.m.

Pratt and Belgrade Recreation Department Director Valencia Schubert both attributed the low turnout to the time of year. They said the end of the summer and back-to-school time can make it hard for people to get to events such as community blood drives.

The American Red Cross is sponsoring several blood drives around the state this week as part of 9/11 Day, a National Day of Service and Remembrance, according to a news release from the American Red Cross.

About 250 people are expected to attend the group’s blood drive on Friday at the Augusta Civic Center, Pratt said. The drive runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and in past years has been well attended, he said. Blood drives also are scheduled in Auburn and Portland on Friday and Casco on Saturday.

The Red Cross has been sponsoring blood drives as part of a 9/11 remembrance since 2002, beginning with New England-wide blood drives at Fenway Park in Boston in the years immediately after the attacks, Pratt said.

“After a while we started doing the ones here (in Maine) to commemorate 9/11,” he said. “I think a lot of people, when they would recall what happened, felt like they had no control over it. This is something people can do to give back. It’s a good gesture to counteract the tragedy of 9/11.”

Bill Prescott, 63, of Winthrop, has volunteered at several Red Cross blood drives honoring the victims of 9/11 and has given 145 pints of blood in his lifetime. On Thursday he was volunteering at the community center in Belgrade.

“When 9/11 first occurred, people came out in droves to give,” he said. “It’s a way of honoring the memory of those who died. It makes you feel nothing but good to donate.”

Susan McGuckin, 37, of Belgrade, was one of the few people who donated at Thursday’s event. She said she donates blood a couple of times a year and went to Belgrade on Thursday to avoid the crowds at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday.

“It’s the right thing to do,” McGuckin said as she ate a snack and waited a few minutes to recover after giving blood. “There are a lot of people who need blood. I feel like I’m doing my duty.”

Pratt said the need for blood donations is constant and that one donation can help up to three people in need of blood. “I’m hopeful people will give up the time to come tomorrow,” he said. “There may be a wait if a lot of people come, but it’s important to realize that one donation helps up to three lives. Those that need blood don’t have a choice. They need the blood and have to wait for it.”

The American Red Cross blood drive will be open at the Augusta Civic Center from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. To make an appointment in advance, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 800-733-2767 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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