CHARLESTON, W.V. — The American Red Cross is urging people to get out and donate blood.

“We need donors of all blood types to schedule an appointment as soon as possible and donate,” said Marianne Spampinato, Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Services for the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region.

Donations have been very low in the past month and as a result the Red Cross has issued an emergency request for blood and platelets.

“In raw numbers we are looking at a 10 percent decrease in donations which is about 50,000 fewer donations than expected,” said Spampinato.

This isn’t the first time the Red Cross has had a shortage this bad. This time last year they had a similar shortage. Spampinato said the summertime is usually a tough period for blood donations.

“People are away on vacation and some businesses are short staffed,” she said. “Schools for the most part are out of session or if they do host blood drives, then there is fewer people on campus.”

Schools, in fact, account for a large portion of total blood donations throughout the year.

“In our one hundred county service area, which includes much of West Virginia, we are looking at 30 percent,” said Spampinato. “So that’s a huge difference to try to make up on top of some of our regular donors being away and business sponsors perhaps being short staffed.”

To try and encourage groups into sponsoring a blood drive during the summer, the Red Cross each year incorporates several promotions or scholarship programs. One of the scholarship programs they have currently going pertains to school groups or other organizations.

“You can have church youth groups and school groups such as bands, athletic clubs or any other clubs in a school, sponsor a blood drive and if they get at least 30 donations at that drive, will be eligible for a disbursement from us to a third party entity of their choice,” said Spampinato.

But people don’t have to wait for a school to host a blood drive because the Red Cross holds numerous blood drives during the summer months and throughout the year.

Spampinato expects the donations to pick up once schools start back up again, but urges people not wait till then and find a blood drive today and donate.

To find the next and nearest blood drive in your neighborhood, or just to find out more information about giving blood, call 1-800-RED-CROSS and hit option two or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

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