The holidays are a busy time of year, but the American Red Cross is making it easy and rewarding to give a lifesaving blood donation. From now until December 18th, the American Red Cross is giving a gift to those who come out and donate blood. Spokesperson Cynthia De La Torre explains.

“We are encouraging those eligible blood donors by offering a $5 Amazon.com gift card, courtesy of Suburban Propane who is our partner in this,” De La Torre said. “It is really quick and easy to find a blood drive near you. You can download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, you can go online at RedCrossBlood.org or you can call 1-800-RED CROSS for a blood donation.”

According to De La Torre, they see a slight decline in blood donations during the holidays because poor weather can make it difficult to travel and most folks are preoccupied.

“People go on vacation,” De La Torre said. “High school and college students are on holiday as well and those students make up 20% of our donor base. That is part of the reason why we want to encourage blood donors to come out and give for the holiday season.”

Right now, De La Torre says there is a critical need for type O blood donors.

“Medical procedures don’t wait,” De La Torre said. “We have open-heart surgery going on, burn victims, and premature babies that are being born. That never stops. We have sickle cell anemia patients that get blood transfusions every couple of weeks. We also have cancer patients that have to have those blood transfusions as well. The only source we have is volunteer blood donors.”

The entire donation process only takes about an hour, but donors can save time with RapidPass. Pre-donation reading and health history questions can be completed online to save about 15 minutes. Donors will also get important health information. Donors receive a mini-health screening to help determine eligibility that includes blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin readings. First-time donors will also find out their blood type soon after donating.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Missoula:

11/25/2019: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Aerial Fire Depot, 5765 W. Broadway

11/26/2019: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Engel & Volkers, 321 N Higgins Ave

11/27/2019: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Lucky's Market, 2901 Brooks St.

11/29/2019: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Southgate Mall, 2901 Brooks

12/2/2019: 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., St. Francis Xavier Church, 420 Pine Street

12/2/2019: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Missoula Public Library, 301 East Main

12/3/2019: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., St. Anthonys Parish, 217 Tremont

12/3/2019: 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., The Women's Club, 2105 Bow

12/4/2019: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., University of Montana Continuing Ed Building, The University of Montana, 32 Campus Drive

12/4/2019: 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Northwestern Energy, 1801 Russell

12/7/2019: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Lowe's, 3100 Reserve Street

12/9/2019: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Fuel Fitness, Holiday Shopping Center, 1934 Brooks St.

12/11/2019: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., PEAK Health and Wellness Downtown, 150 East Spruce

12/12/2019: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., United States Forest Service - Fort Missoula Combined, 26 Fort Missoula Road

12/12/2019: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Community Medical Center, 2827 Fort Missoula Road

12/17/2019: 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., ClassPass, 101 E W Front St