The American Red Cross urges people to share their good health this holiday season by donating blood or platelets for patients in need.

A decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. However, medical treatments and emergencies that require blood don’t stop for the holidays. The Red Cross is thanking those who carve out time to give Nov. 21-24 with a long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last.

Patients like 6-year-old Ava King will continue to need transfusions critical to their care this holiday season. Ava has Diamond-Blackfan anemia, which impacts her body’s ability to produce enough red blood cells.

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"We are so thankful for blood donors, because Ava relies on blood transfusions every month to stay alive and thrive,” said Ava’s mother, Tina King. “It’s truly a gift!”

By giving blood or platelets, donors may give patients more time – and more holidays – with loved ones. Make an appointment to donate blood or platelets by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Another way to help keep the blood supply strong this winter is to host a Red Cross blood drive in December, January or February. To learn more about hosting a blood drive and to sign up, visit www.redcrossblood.org/hostadrive.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Nov. 16-30 in Union County:

  • Cranford:  11/23/2018: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Cranford United Methodist Church, 201 Lincoln Ave. E.
  • New Providence:  11/23/2018: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., New Jersey Sharing Network, 691 Central Ave.
  • Plainfield:  11/16/2018: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Plainfield High School, 950 Park Ave.
  • Summit:  11/19/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., American Red Cross, 695 Springfield Ave.

How to donate blood:  Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

Volunteers needed:  Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. Volunteer transportation specialists play a very important role in ensuring an ample blood supply for patients in need by transporting blood and blood products. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position, visit rdcrss.org/driver.

About the American Red Cross:  The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit RedCross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.