VALDOSTA – With Independence Day come and gone, the American Red Cross is in critical need of blood and platelet donors nationwide, according to the agency. 

Terri Jenkins, regional executive director, said there was a significant shortfall of donors following the holiday, which the Red Cross reports is unusual. 

“Over the Independence Day holiday week, more than 450 fewer blood drives were held than an average week, which led to as many as 17,000 fewer blood donations than needed for patients,” she said in a statement.

The Red Cross credits the low amount of donors to traveling, Jenkins said. The agency asks residents begin to donate more. 

Jenkins confirms while there is a supply available in a bank, it is lower than normal.

“The Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available and less than a two-day supply of type-O blood,” she said.

Type-O blood is the most widely needed, she said. 

One unit of blood can save three lives but the life span of the blood product is limited, Jenkins said. 

The ideal donor exercises, eats healthy, has a good amount of iron and stays hydrated. 

If a resident does not wish to donate blood, he or she can support the local chapter of Red Cross in other ways.

The agency was recently chosen as a recipient of the Community Bag program.

If Valdosta customers buy a shopping bag for $2.50 at Winn-Dixie, 3200 N. Ashley St., $1 of that cost will be donated to the Red Cross through July 31, Jenkins said.

The bags are located at cash registers and on the reusable bag rack. 

Information about donating is on redcrossblood.org. Visit redcrossblood.org/hostadrive to learn how to sponsor a blood drive. Call (229) 242-7404 for more information. 

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