As many look ahead at a busy holiday season, the American Red Cross encourages eligible donors across the country to harness their humanity by giving blood or platelets in the coming weeks.

As a result of a low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. The ongoing effects of COVID-19 and a summer spike in delta variant cases significantly challenged the nation’s blood supply heading into the fall.

The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year − one of the largest year-to-year decreases and one that could threaten essential medical care for patients. Locally, the Virginia Red Cross Region has experienced a 41& decrease in new blood donors this year.

Red Cross officials are asking residents to make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As a thank-you, all those who come to give Nov. 29-Dec. 16 will be automatically entered for a chance to win a private screening for the winner and 50 of their guests of the epic new film The Matrix Resurrections for the winner and 50 of their guests. Plus, those who come to give Nov. 29-Dec. 16 will also get a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, thanks to Amazon.

Those who share the warmth and make a blood or platelet donation part of their Thanksgiving plans Nov. 24-28 will receive an exclusive pair of Red Cross holiday socks, while supplies last.

In addition, a blood drive is coming to Halifax County from noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Mary Bethune Office Complex located at 1030 Cowford Road.