Residents are urged to donate blood with the American Red Cross through Nov. 30 and send holiday greetings to America's heroes.
When area residents come to donate blood with the American Red Cross through Nov. 30, they can also participate in the national organization's seventh annual Holiday Mail for Heroes Program.
Through this program, the American Red Cross collects and distributes cards that send words of encouragement, gratitude and cheer to members of the U.S. Armed forces, veterans and their families.
Local Red Cross blood drives through Nov. 30 will feature cards for blood donors to sign. Following each blood drive, the Red Cross will collect the signed cards and work with Pitney Bowes Inc. to get the cards to their destination.
"Since military deployments and hospital stays may keep many of our nation's heroes away from their families this holiday season, we want to provide area residents an opportunity to support two great causes at the same time," commented John Hagins, CEO, American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region. "It just takes a moment to sign a card to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the military community make. You say thanks, and we'll do the rest."
Holiday Mail for Heroes blood drives begin in the wake of the nor'easter making its way along the East Coast. The Red Cross is preparing to respond to the new storm at the same time as the massive relief effort for Superstorm Sandy is underway.
"We are currently prepared to help meet the blood needs of affected areas. However, the nor'easter has the potential to cause the cancellation of additional blood drives as it moves up the coast," Hagins said. It's the blood on the shelves that helps save lives before, during and after a disaster.
"Blood donations tend to decline during the holiday season as donors become busy with vacations, holiday shopping and gatherings with friends and family," he noted.
Visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS for information on upcoming Red Cross blood drives or to make a donation appointment.
Hagins explained that Pitney Bowes Inc. receives cards at the special Holiday Mail post office box, and screens them for hazardous materials. Pitney Bowes screens, packages and ships the cards at no charge, and contributes thousands of volunteer hours at sites around the country.
Red Cross volunteers across the United States and on military installations overseas then sort and deliver the cards throughout the holiday season. The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have received and distributed more than 4.7 million cards for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and their families since the program began in 2006.
The Red Cross relies on the support of the American people to carry out its mission of service to the 2 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 24 million veterans and their families. During this holiday season, people also can support all Red Cross services by making a financial donation at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. Individuals can also give the gift of life by making an appointment to give blood at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.