With fewer people rolling up their sleeves to give blood last year in Surry County, American Red Cross officials are hoping a new incentive will get 2013 off to a good start and halt that trend.
Surry County residents donated 6,321 units of blood during 2012, nearly 600 less than in 2011 when 6,920 units were received. The quantity not given had the potential to save or prolong life among patients in need.
Last year’s drop is blamed on a decline in sponsorships of blood drives by various entities and the fact that some businesses that had hosted them closed, according to Ginny Anderson, a Red Cross donor-recruitment representative for Surry.
Coupled with that, this time of year is not exactly the blood-giving season, Anderson said.
“In the wintertime, we notice a lot of travel and a lot of sickness, and due to that travel and sickness people aren’t able to donate,” she said. Winter weather and busy schedules also can keep donors away, although the need for blood remains constant, Red Cross officials say.
To target donors for the first of the year, the Red Cross has announced a “Building a Better Blood Supply” promotion that offers those who give the chance to win a $1,000 gift card to a home-improvement store.
“It works two ways,” Anderson said of the program that seeks to boost blood supplies to help others while also giving donors something to look forward to in the spring and summer when do-it-yourself projects blossom. The winner of the gift card can use it for power tools, paint or other needed supplies.
Beginning next week, a series of blood drives are planned throughout Surry County, offering numerous opportunities for donors to help improve the lives of others and possibly their homes as well, officials say.
The “Building a Better Blood Supply” promotion runs through March 31.
“Donating blood only takes about an hour, but the benefits can be lifesaving for a patient in your community,” said Delisa English, chief executive officer of the Red Cross Carolinas Blood Services Region, which includes Surry County.
“This time of year is always challenging, but we hope our dedicated donors continue to make it a priority to build a better blood supply.”
The Carolinas Blood Services Region aids patients in 103 hospitals. About 1,600 people need to give blood or platelets each weekday to meet hospital demands.
Blood can be donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days, up to 24 times a year.
The Red Cross is planning 10 drives during the month under this schedule:
• Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 314 S. Franklin Road, Mount Airy. Appointments can be scheduled at calvarybcmtairy.org, with more information available from Ashley Mills at 403-1770.
• Monday from 1:30 to 6 p.m. at the Surry American Red Cross building, which will host a community blood drive. It is located at 844 Westlake Drive, Mount Airy. Appointments can be made at www.redcrossblood.org, and doing a search for Mount Airy, with more information available from Ginny Anderson at 416-4016.
• Thursday from 2 to 6:30 p.m. at Elkin High School, which will host the Brandon “Bubba” Bradley Bloodstock drive. Appointments can be made at 828-719-8137.
• Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Northern Hospital of Surry County. Appointments can be made at 719-7013 or by visting www.redcrossblood.org and searching for Northern.
• Jan. 18 at Mayberry Mall from 2:30 to 7 p.m., with Chad Harris the contact person for appointments at 786-1005.
• Jan. 21 at the Elkin Rescue Squad building, which will host a community drive from 1:30 to 6 p.m. Appointments can be made with Sam Bishop at 366-9751.
• Jan. 24 from 1 to 5:30 p.m. at White Plains Elementary School at 710 Cadle Ford Road. Appointments can be scheduled with the school at 320-3434.
• Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, 180 Parkwood Drive, Elkin, with 527-7419 the contact number for appointments.
• Jan. 28 at First United Methodist Church in Pilot Mountain, where a community blood drive is planned from noon to 4:30 p.m. The church is located at 210 Marion St., with appointments available through Ken Shelton at 368-4548.
• Jan. 29 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Shoals Elementary School, 1800 Shoals Road, Pinnacle. Appointments can be made with the school at 325-2518.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.