During this season of giving, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many additional or new opportunities for community support of organizations doing so much to address the region’s needs. Many of these opportunities involve the giving of the proverbial time, talent or treasure, such as volunteer work to support hospitals, faith organizations, shelters and food pantries, to name a few, or donations to the United Way and the full range of charitable organizations that provide such vital services to so many. The community’s support for them has always been important, but is especially so now as COVID-19 cases are spiking and the economic fallout continues.
There’s also another giving opportunity made more urgent this holiday season that requires neither time, nor talent nor treasure, but only blood. Quite simply, the American Red Cross needs healthy blood donors, and needs them even more than typically because of the pandemic.
The onset of the public-health crisis significantly disrupted the organization’s nationwide blood donation efforts, as businesses and other typical blood-drive venues closed during times of lockdown. And the emphasis on observing social distancing precautions and general nervousness about the pandemic environment have probably led to some wariness by potential donors.
Yet the need for blood donations remains urgent. The Red Cross says there will be more than 1 million blood transfusions given across the country between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and without donations hospitals and other facilities may face shortages in meeting patient blood needs. Mary Brant, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross of Northern New England, says the region must collect over 400 donations daily to keep up with its need.
Sensitive to safety concerns potential donors may have, the Red Cross has stepped up its safety and infection control standards that keep donors safe. Among the protocols it has implemented are temperature checks, mask-wearing, additional sanitizing measures and social distancing.
Although the highest demand is for types O positive and O negative blood, the Red Cross is encouraging donations of all blood types. And any donation may result in a further benefit, because it will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Not only could donors learn whether they might have had the coronavirus even without experiencing symptoms, but they might then be eligible to donate their plasma containing the antibodies to help COVID-19 patients recover.
The giving of time, talent or treasure to worthy charitable organizations is a wonderful gesture during the holiday or any season. A blood donation to the Red Cross — quite possibly, a gift of life — is too, and it’s a particularly helpful and hopeful one at this time. There are several blood drives upcoming in the region over the next few weeks, and appointments can be scheduled online through the Red Cross app or its website, www.redcrossblood.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).