The American Red Cross is asking for blood donors as it faces historically low blood supply levels.
Each unit of blood can save up to three lives because it can be broken down into different components, said Eric Anderson, executive director of the American Red Cross branch serving the greater Shenandoah Valley.
Although many people assume that those who don’t donate blood are afraid of needles, Anderson said that’s “far behind” for people who don’t realize the need for blood donors and haven’t been questioned.
“Please consider yourself requested,” he said.
And to those who can’t donate for whatever reason, he challenged them to send two friends in their place.
“It’s a huge gift to give at this time of year,” he said.
The Red Cross, which supplies 40% of the country’s blood, said in a press release Wednesday that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is making its usual Christmas struggle even more difficult this year.
Through a combination of holiday schedules, school breaks, potential winter weather and challenges during the pandemic, the organization is struggling more than ever to encourage people to donate blood.
Without enough blood to use in transfusions, the organization said patients could potentially face delays in care.
To encourage area residents to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible, they are offering an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved t-shirt, while supplies last, to anyone who donates blood from the December 17 to January 2.
Donors are asked to make an appointment using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
The app also allows users to store their donor card digitally, Anderson said.
“There is no waiting period for blood donation for those who have received a flu shot or a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or booster, as long as they do not present no symptoms,” the statement read.
Red Cross staff, volunteers and donors will be required to wear face masks. Donors are asked to make an appointment before arriving at the drive-thru.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities include:
* noon to 7 p.m. Friday at Clarke County Fairgrounds, 890 W. Main St.
* 1-7 p.m. December 21, 28, and 30 at the Winchester Blood Donation Center, 561 Fortress Drive
* 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on December 29 at the Holiday Inn Winchester, SE, 333 Front Royal Pike
Noon to 5:30 p.m. December 28 at Virginia Hills Church, 737 Rockland Road
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
* 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 27 at Shepherdstown Fire Station, 8052 Martinsburg Pike