WASHINGTON — They’ve been showing up for 12 years now, donating blood a pint at a time. One day, they hoped, they’d hit 1,000 pints.

And on Friday, two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the Washington Volunteer Fire Department will reach a goal set in 2004, when the department decided to donate 1,000 pints of blood to commemorate the 3,000 lives lost that September day.

“It’s special,” said Duncan Woodruff, a retired fire chief. “We’ve been trying to raise 1,000 pints for all these years.”

A pint of blood can save three lives, according to the American Red Cross, and with 3,000 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, the fire department thought 1,000 pints donated by the small Litchfield County town could help their hurting nation.

As of last week, the department was at 976 pints donated, said the American Red Cross.

Woodruff, who has personally donated five gallons — 40 pints — to the cause, said he’ll keep donating even after the department reaches its goal.

People are still dying from 9/11-related illnesses, he said. It seems 1,000 pints for 3,000 lives no longer cuts it, he added.

And at only 30 pints a drive, it’s no wonder it took more than a decade to reach the lofty goal. The 24th pint donated Friday will do the trick, according to the Red Cross.

More Information

If you go

To donate, stop by the Washington Volunteer Fire Department’s firehouse, 109 Bee Brook Rd. in Washington Depot, from 1 to 6:30 p.m.

By the numbers:

Pints of Blood Donated

2004: 58

2005: 52

2006: 90

2007: 93

2008: 89

2009: 83

2010: 81

2011: 73

2012: 75

2013: 37

2014: 101

2015: 86

2016: 58

Total: 976

Although Woodruff hopes he can donate the 1,000th pint himself, he’ll have some competition. First Selectman Mark Lyon said he’ll donate Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were only two time-slots left open to donate.

But walk-ins are always welcome, Woodruff said, adding that the department would like to donate as much blood to the Red Cross as possible, regardless of milestones.

“When it first happened it was such a tragedy,” Woodruff said. “And there are still people dying.”

The town’s effort is the least they could do, he said.

blytton@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3411; @bglytton