Blood Assurance, a nonprofit provider of blood products to area hospitals, including Williamson Medical Center, opened the county's first brick-and-mortar donation center Aug. 13.

Located at 600A Frazier Drive, Franklin, the center features private screening rooms and an open donation area with socially distanced chairs. Officials said they hope to encourage area residents to become regular donors.

"The number one reason that most people say they don't donate was because no one asked them, so that's a lot of what we're working on right now is just educating people not only why they should donate blood, but why they should donate blood with Blood Assurance because we are the only supplier of blood products to Williamson County," Blood Assurance COO Christopher Swafford said.

The new location comes as the Middle Tennessee region and hospitals nationwide are facing a blood shortage, according to Blood Assurance officials.

"Usage has been going up; there's a stockpile within the Blood Centers of America, and inventory that they've been keeping track of is slowly starting to dwindle and actually accelerate the rate at which it dwindles because of the fact that COVID variants become more present," Blood Assurance Medical Director Dr. Ted Kieffer said.

While donors can earn incentives and points to cash in for prizes, officials said they hope the feeling of helping someone in need will keep donors coming back.

"[Donating] is one of the most altruistic things you can do," Kieffer said. "You come in, you get a needle in your arm and you get a cookie. Then just feeling that you did something good for somebody else—sure there's the T-shirts and there's all that other stuff, but if you really think about what your blood does and what it can do for somebody else, an hour out of your day to help save a life is completely awesome."