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1st Degree Spotlight of the Month: American Red Cross

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

The month of January encompasses many things: the start of a new year, calm after the busy holidays and National Blood Donor Month! In honor of National Blood Donor Month, we wanted to highlight an organization that has been around for over 100 years and continues to make an impact in the world: the American Red Cross.

When the pandemic hit this year, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives were canceled, leading to some 86,000 fewer blood donations. In a world where the demand for blood doesn’t decrease, this was a huge problem. But in the face of this crisis, many organizations stepped up to answer Red Cross’s call for blood and hosted blood drives. Museums, churches and sports arenas across the nation filled their halls with blood donors instead of their usual visitors and fans, inspiring safe and socially distanced blood drives and proving that giving efforts could continue despite the virus. The 1st Degree Team was inspired by Red Cross’s ability to adapt and find a way to allow donors to give!

The American Red Cross is one of the top organizations that provides blood to those when they need it most, accounting for more than 40% of the blood products in the country. An estimated 6.8 million people donate blood each year, totaling over 13.6 million units of blood. Now is the perfect time to donate due to the increase in illnesses during the cold months and a decrease in donations due to inclement weather and the holidays.

Never given blood before? No problem, here are some helpful tips to make your first time a breeze:

Location and how to make an appointment:

  • American Red Cross hosts local drives at a variety of community locations throughout the U.S.

  • American Red Cross has an easy-to-use app that finds blood drives near your current location. The app also allows you to complete paperwork before your appointment and keep track of your blood donations.

How to prepare yourself:

  • Wear a loose-fitting or short sleeve shirt for ease of access to your arms.

  • Make sure to eat an iron-rich meal (like eggs) and drink plenty of water before and after your appointment.

  • Whole blood donations usually take about 45 to 60 minutes.

  • Don’t like needles? Bring headphones to distract yourself with music. Let the technician know you are uncomfortable with needles and they will work to make the experience better for you.

  • Consult the blood donor eligibility page before your appointment so there aren’t any surprises.

  • Additional questions? Learn more about the donation process on their FAQ page and their First Time Donor page.

Reasons to give:

  • One blood donation can save up to three lives.

  • Some locations are offering free antibody testing for COVID-19.

  • The American Red Cross often has small incentives like t-shirts or gift cards to encourage blood donations.

While December might be over, the giving season doesn’t have to be. The 1st Degree team is proud to be making blood donations this January in celebration of the American Red Cross. Consider giving the gift of life and make an appointment today by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).


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