Every year at Comic-Con, attendees save lives by donating blood at the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive - now in its 41st year. Each pint can save up to 3 lives, and last year we donated almost 1300 pints. So it's pretty cool to be part of a heroic effort that is the San Diego Blood Bank's longest-running drive.
And it's so easy to participate. You can sign up online or you can sign up at the blood drive booth in the Sails Pavilion. (First-timers, this is right up the escalators in the convention center.) The blood drive itself is at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, just down the street from the convention center on the other side of the Marriott Marquis. It's a very quick walk. The whole thing usually takes about an hour.
Preparing for Donation
If you've donated before, you know there are a range of travel, medication and other factors which can eliminate you so check here to see if you're eligible. Women, if you tend toward anemia (which has gotten me politely bounced out of a few blood drives) take your iron leading up to the Con. In general, every donor should eat well at the Con - SDCC is already a tiring experience, so if you intend to donate, make sure you're eating good meals and staying hydrated and rested, rather than living off Pop-Tarts and Red Bull and staying out all night.
What You'll Get
Everyone who donates gets a sweet swag bag that usually has books, a t-shirt and coupons and other stuff. This year donors will get a Guardians of the Galaxy shirt. (First-timers: Comic-Con t-shirts are usually a nice quality cotton unlike those cheap free shirts your credit union or local charity event hands out; mine have lasted for years.) Donors also get entered into multiple daily drawings that offer anything from invites to exclusive parties to free books, comics, toys, shirts and other Exhibit Hall merch. Because you're not competing with a ginormous number of people, you have a good chance of winning - I have in the past and I never win anything.
The drive usually takes walk-ins, so if you don't want to commit to a specific time and date, that's fine. But please consider adding this to your SDCC agenda. You can come home knowing your Comic-Con experience included saving someone's life.