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Red Cross, LifeSouth need holiday blood donors

By Jason A. Smith

Two regional blood-donation outlets are engaged in efforts to generate more traffic at their locations during the holiday season.

The American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers are each holding promotions to attract donors in November and December. According to representatives of both groups, blood is in great need -- and in short supply.

April Phillips is a communications specialist for the American Red Cross's southern blood services region, which covers parts of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. She said the winter months are often accompanied by a "drastic decrease" in donations.

"This is due to a number of factors, primarily because school isn't in session during most of that time," said Phillips. "When they are, the kids are taking finals, and giving blood isn't at the front of their minds."

Approximately 24 percent of all blood collected by the Red Cross throughout the year is the result of drives conducted at high schools and colleges. Phillips said when classes are not in session at those institutions, blood donations "take a serious hit."

The Red Cross has launched a promotion to encourage the public to give blood through the end of the year. Those who donate through Dec. 31, will be entered in a drawing to receive one of three $1,000 gift cards.

The organization is also issuing a call to current donors, to talk to their friends and neighbors about giving blood. Phillips noted that education is an essential component in helping the Red Cross achieve its goals.

"A lot of people don't give blood because they don't realize there's a need for it, [and] were never asked," said Phillips.

Jil Osborne, a donor consultant for LifeSouth's region covering Henry and Clayton counties, and south toward Macon, said the group typically needs more blood donations in November and December, because more residents are traveling and getting into accidents on the roads.

However, she added, that that same period is precisely when donation numbers tail off. "The holiday season always affects the number of blood donations we have," said Osborne. "People are busier and don't take the time to give blood. So, we have a decrease in donations and an increase in need."

Osborne said LifeSouth relies on the "generosity" of people who donate blood, and is taking steps to bring more of those individuals to their locations in the coming weeks.

"As a thank-you to them, we are raffling off a Wii entertainment console, gifts and gift certificates during the month of December," she said.

Raffle tickets will be available at all LifeSouth mobile blood drives in Henry and Clayton counties.

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