December_GaryBloodDonationA.jpgBy Gary Striar, CEO

Last week, I donated blood – something I try to do every 2 months. During and after donating, I had such a sense of satisfaction knowing that I was helping someone who was either ill or had been in an accident. I found myself smiling for the rest of the day, knowing that I had done something really good and important. I also remembered the final few years of my dad’s life, when regular blood transfusions gave us a few extra years with him.

This is a time of year when the Red Cross really needs people to donate blood to help patients in need. Fewer donations are made when schools are on break and people are busy celebrating the holidays. In more normal winters, things like snow storms and cold & flu season have an impact on donations, too. But patients still need blood and platelets all winter long.

December_GaryBloodDonationsquareIf you’ve never donated before, its actually very easy and relatively painless. Let me assure you that if there were serious pain involved, I would not be doing it. The people who work at the donation centers and blood drives across our community are not only caring – they’re a lot of fun. Donating blood is a relaxing experience for me. Imagine no work calls or emails for an entire hour. And when you’re done, there are free snacks and drinks.  (I recommend the cookies.)

Recently, the Red Cross introduced RapidPass to make the donation process even easier. You can now complete a portion of your health history from the convenience of your own computer before you head to your appointment. It’s a great time saver on donation day. I’d also recommend downloading the free Blood Donor App for your smart phone. It makes scheduling appointments a breeze, and you can use it to track the impact of your donations over a lifetime.

I hope you’ll join me and donate blood over the holidays or anytime this winter. What better gift to give this holiday season than the gift of life for someone in need?

You can schedule a donation appointment or get more information at  Happy holidays.

NOTE: Those who come to give blood or platelets from Dec. 23, 2015, through Jan. 3, 2016, will receive a free Red Cross long-sleeve T-shirt, while supplies last.