MILLTOWN/SPOSWOOD, NJ - The tri-state area has been battling a blood emergency since early June. The New York Blood Center declared the emergency when their supplies dipped to dangerously low level. Blood banks typically like to keep a nine-day backup supply on hand. However, in recent weeks the backup supply was only four days for some blood types and less for others like O and B negative. Donations are usually less during June, July and August, which the New York Blood Center fears will only make the issue worse.

To combat the drop in blood supplies, two area blood drives are planned for the Helmetta, Milltown and Spotswood area. A blood drive will be held in Spotswood on Monday, July 2 from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Spotswood VFW. Milltown will also host a blood drive on Tuesday, July 3 from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church.

Donors at the July 2 Spotswood blood drive will receive a $10 off coupon at any Houlihans Restaurant while donors for the Milltown Drive on July 3 will receive a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert at Otilia's Cafe in Spotswood.

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Donors should be between the ages of 17 and 75 and be in good physical health. A donor can be 16 years of age, but must have a parental consent form. Individuals 76 years of age and older can donate with a doctor's note. All donors should bring identification with a signature or a photo that includes a date of birth. Individuals with a donor card should bring the card.

Walk-ins are welcome, but donors can also schedule appointments by telephoning 1-800-933-2566. Appointments can be scheduled for either the July 2 Spotswood drive and the Milltown drive on July 3 drive online as well.

The donation process takes about sixty minutes. Donors should hydrate well the day before they are scheduled to give blood. It's helpful to snack on salty snacks the evening before as well as get a good night's sleep prior to donating. Eating a well-balanced breakfast the morning of the donation is recommended. Donors should also bring a bottle of water along and drink right before donating.

For additional information on the blood donation process, visit the New York Blood Center's website.

The Spotswood VFW is located at 33 Daniel Road in Spotswood while the United Methodist Church is located at 47 North Main Street in Milltown.