Residents of the Bloomington-Normal community have the opportunity to give back with the Red Cross this November — by donating blood.
In honor of Veterans’ Day, the Red Cross has organized several blood drives held across numerous counties within Illinois and encourages eligible donors to make an appointment this coming month. The organization is in need of all blood types to donate, especially A negative, B negative and O negative.
“Collecting blood and platelet donations around Thanksgiving, when many donors travel to be with family, poses an extra challenge,” April Oppliger, program manager of communications for the Red Cross, said.
“With fewer blood drives during Thanksgiving week, it’s important for eligible donors to give throughout November to meet the needs of patients.”
Inclement weather and seasonal illnesses can also make winter a difficult time to collect enough blood and platelet donations to meet patient needs, she added.
The Red Cross provides blood products to approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers throughout the country, including several Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, she said.
“By giving blood, you are giving the gift of hope to patients in need and their loved ones,” she said. “Regular blood and platelet donations are needed to ensure that there is blood on the shelves when patients need it.”
Donors often say one of the greatest benefits of giving blood or platelets is the gratification of helping others.
“Of course, there are other benefits of donating — you get a mini-physical, you are treated to refreshments after donating and you can now call yourself a hero,” Oppliger said.
The Red Cross is also promoting showing support for veterans in another way: citizens can now send holiday cards for veterans, military families and active-duty service members to hospitals and installations around the world as part of the annual Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
Between now and December, the Red Cross is gathering cards and will then hand them out.
“This year, we’re expanding the ways you can participate in this terrific program,” Oppliger said.
“Instagram, Vine or general Twitter users can tag photos or video messages with the #HolidayMail hashtag.
The Red Cross will display them on our blog, so service members across the country and around the world will be able to see the cheery holiday messages.”
The need for donating blood is continuous — every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
With 38 percent of the country’s population eligible to donate blood, only 8 percent actually do. Blood products can be used to treat cancer patients, trauma victims, organ transplant recipients, premature babies, sickle cell disease sufferers and more.
The Red Cross itself supplies about 40 percent of the country’s blood. With active donors, each donation can save up to three lives. Donating only takes a little over an hour.
For more information on donating, log onto redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.