MOULTRIE — Thousands of people donate blood in our area each year, and their generous gift has saved countless lives. But the need for blood is constant, so the American Red Cross is encouraging blood and platelet donors to challenge their family, friends and colleagues by saying, “I give blood. Will you?”

During the winter holiday season, the blood supply often suffers tremendously, a Red Cross press release said. With donors on vacation and preoccupied with other holiday-related activities, collections typically decline between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This year, January was particularly difficult as well. When this collection shortfall is paired with the increased demand also common during this season of travel, a potentially dangerous situation can develop as demand for blood and blood products becomes greater than the supply.

“This is a critical time of year for blood and platelet donations,” said Randy Edwards, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region. “We’re so grateful for our dedicated blood donors, but now we’re asking them to not only continue to give themselves, but to challenge their friends and family to also give the gift of life. With more Red Cross advocates spreading the word in the Moultrie area, we stand a greater chance of being able to meet the needs in our community this winter season.”

The Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region provides life-saving blood to 120 hospitals and must have 1,200 people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive life-saving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood, and volunteer donors are the only source.

The Red Cross is asking all eligible donors to participate in today’s community blood drive taking place at Colquitt EMC from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given safely at area donor centers every two weeks, up to 24 times a year. Most healthy people age 17 and older who weigh at least 110 pounds, are eligible to donate blood and platelets. For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, please call 1-800-GIVE LIFE (448-3543) or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

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