Bates College sophomores Emma Erkkila, left, and Ella Nichol tell stories Saturday about being locked down while outside the Auburn Red Cross Blood and Platelet Donation Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Bates College sophomores Ella Nichol and Emma Erkkila signed up to donate blood in the wake of the Lewiston shootings, and said they considered donating blood a way to give back to their community because, as they put it, “Lewiston is home.”

Neither Nichol nor Erkkila has donated blood before, but said their entire group of friends has signed up with the same civic-minded purpose.

When they got to the Auburn Red Cross Blood and Platelet Donation Center on Center Street Saturday afternoon it was unexpectedly closed, likely due to the shelter-in-place orders for Lewiston and Androscoggin County that had just expired the night before.

“It’s cliché, but you hear about (shootings) and you don’t think it can happen to your community,” Nichol said. “We were locked down on campus and the shelter-in-place was just lifted this morning.”

Nichol and Erkkila were visiting the Bates gym when the campus went into lockdown. They stayed overnight in the men’s football locker room before school authorities gave them permission Thursday morning to make scheduled runs to the food court.

Erkkila is an exchange student from Finland and when the Lewiston shootings happened Wednesday night her parents were several time zones ahead and already asleep.

“My mom texted me and apologized for sending me to school in the U.S.,” Erikkila said.

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