OUR VIEW: Kick off the new year by being a Red Cross blood donor

The new year has begun in earnest, bringing cold temperatures along with a desire to get 2014 off on the right foot. There are many ways to do that — call them resolutions, goals, etc. — but for those looking to make a positive impact the American Red Cross has an idea: Participate in National Blood Donor Month.

The Red Cross is encouraging folks to roll up their sleeves and start the new year off by helping save lives. It’s not a coincidence that the organization chose January as its donor month. Because of bad weather, cold and flu season and post-holiday letdown, the first month of the year is one of the more difficult times for getting people to donate blood.

On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Those numbers make it important to get the year started with a solid flow of donations.

“I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than by taking the time to give blood,” Jerry J.K. Tillery, chief executive officer, Southern, Alabama & Central Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico Blood Services Region, said in a news release. “This is one resolution that takes little time, about an hour, but has a tremendous impact — helping to save as many as three lives with each donation.”

The Red Cross welcomes donors of all blood types, but O negative, A negative and B negative are needed most. Scheduling an appointment is as easy as calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or going to redcrossblood.org, where you can click on the blue box at the top right that says “Make a Blood Donation Appointment,” and enter a zip code, mile radius and date range to find upcoming blood drives.

Schedule an appointment today and start the new year off with a good deed.