Blood donations needed; winter storms affected many drives
Local chapters of the American Red Cross will celebrate Red Cross Month by hosting blood drives to honor donors, while serving those in need.
The Red Cross uses this month to honor the everyday heroes who help the Red Cross fulfill its mission, according to the organization.
"We want to spotlight local Red Cross heroes. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes -- from blood donors to disaster action team members," Leigh Brock, regional communications director of the American Red Cross, said.
According to the American Red Cross, the organization collects and distributes 40 percent of the nation's blood supply, responds to nearly 70,000 disasters per year in the U.S. and offers 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families domestically and abroad.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt first declared March as Red Cross Month in 1943, and every president since then has followed, according to the organization.
The Watauga County Red Cross has continued throughout the years to contribute to the welfare of the High Country through blood drives, safety classes, disaster action teams, fundraisers and other informative outreach programs.
Winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in thousands of uncollected blood and platelet donations, according to the Red Cross.
"All North Carolina and South Carolina blood collections were shut down completely for two days the week of the snow," Brock said. "On top of that, there have been snowstorms in other parts of the country since the beginning of the year. Overall, we've missed out on about 50,000 donations across the country. That's equivalent to the American Red Cross shutting down blood collection operations for three full days."
There is always a need for donations, according to Brock.
"All blood collections are welcome. There's no guarantee there won't be more winter storms that shut down blood collections again. All blood types are needed because so many donations were missed," Brock said.
For more information on the American Red Cross, or to find additional blood donation opportunities, visit http://www.redcrossblood.org or call (800) 733-2767.
Those interested in becoming a sponsor or volunteer should contact Ginny Anderson, donor recruitment representative of the Carolinas Blood Services Region, at (336) 416-4016.