Submitted by Sue Thesenga, ARC

ST. PAUL, MN — The best gifts can’t be bought in a store. The American Red Cross urges eligible donors to give more life by giving blood this December.

In December, donations decline but the needs of patients remain steady. During the holiday season, set aside an hour to give the most important gift – give blood and give more life. To encourage donations, all those who come to give blood or platelets Dec. 21, 2017, through Jan. 7, 2018, will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Make an appointment to give blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

American Red Cross Blood Donation Center - Please check redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS for current blood donation center days and hours.

Chippewa Valley Blood Donation Center, 3485 E. Hamilton Ave., Eau Claire.

Additional blood donation opportunities Dec. 16-31, 2017 - Dunn Co.: Elk Mound - 12/27/2017: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Shepherd of the Hill Lutheran Church, 207 University St. Menomonie - 12/20/2017: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., Menomonie Masonic Lodge #164, N5729 410th St.

Pierce Co.: Elmwood - 12/20/2017: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Village Auditorium, 323 W Winter Ave. Maiden Rock - 12/19/2017: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Fairmount Santrol, W3302 State Highway 35 S.

Prescott - 12/19/2017: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., Joy Lutheran Church, 1435 St. Croix St. River Falls - 12/20/2017: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., River Falls High School, 818 Cemetery Road. 12/28/2017: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Family Fresh Market, 303 S. Main St.

St. Croix Co.: Hudson - 12/22/2017: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Walmart, 2222 Crest View Drive. 12/29/2017: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., County Market, 2310 Crest View Dr. New Richmond – 12/29/2017: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., First Lutheran Church, 218 County Road K

How to donate blood - Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a computer or mobile device. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

Volunteers needed - Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. Volunteer transportation specialists play a very important role in ensuring an ample blood supply for patients in need by transporting blood and blood products. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position please contact North Central Volunteer Services at , or visit rdcrss.org/driver.

The American Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.