The American Red Cross is asking for donors to step up and help prevent a winter blood shortage. Even though the traditional “season of giving” is coming to a close, the American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give one more gift this holiday season. Blood and platelet donations are still needed to ensure enough supply is available for vital medical treatments and unforeseen emergencies.

The Red Cross typically sees a seasonal decline between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when donors are busy with family gatherings and travel. And while the weather’s been fairly mild so far, severe winter weather, when it does hit, can cause blood drive cancellations and put a strain on the existing blood supply. All blood types are needed. To find a location, make an appointment, or for more information on how to donate, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit, or call 1-800 RED-CROSS.

A blood donor’s card, driver’s license, or two forms of identification are needed at check in. The Red Cross recommends eating a healthy meal, including iron-rich foods leading up to the donation, and drinking an extra 16 ounces of liquid both before and after. Also, wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow. Donors can additionally save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, before arriving to the drive.

As a special thank-you during the holiday season, those who donate through Sunday, January 6 will receive a Red Cross t-shirt while supplies last. (MK)