While scrambling to find the right gift for everyone in the family or on your list, don’t forget the most important gift you have to give: blood.

The holidays are typically a time for blood shortages for a variety of reasons, including bad weather, which keeps people home; busy schedules, which keeps potential donors unable to make time; breaks from school, which keeps parents focused on taking care of children; and travel, which takes people out of their routine. This year, there also is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeping many from getting out, and the need for blood was driven up by the devastating tornado that struck western Kentucky over the weekend.

The American Red Cross released a statement saying the country is at an all-time low where blood supply is concerned. The organization also urges anyone who can to give blood now.

Locally, there are several blood drives planned for the coming days, including:

• Dec. 20, 2 to 6:30 p.m. — Lawrence County Community Center, Rt. 644, 205 Bulldog Lane, Louisa.

• Dec. 22, 12:30 to 6 p.m. — American Red Cross Boyd County Chapter House, 4201 Blackburn Ave., Ashland.

• Dec. 22, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — STAR Community Justice Center, 4696 Gallia Pike, Franklin Furnace.

• Dec. 27, 2 to 7 p.m. — Lucasville Masonic Lodge No. 465, 326 Robert Lucas Road, Lucasville, Ohio.

• Dec. 28, noon to 5:30 p.m. — All Saints Episcopal Church, 610 Fourth St., Portsmouth.

There are others in the area, but you need not go to a blood drive. You may schedule an appointment to donate at your leisure by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling (800) 733-2767). There is no blood donation waiting period for those who have received a flu shot or a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or booster if they are symptom-free.

Those who donate through Jan. 2 will receive an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last, according to the release.

Whether you get a T-shirt doesn’t matter. You will get the reward of a warm and fuzzy feeling for doing for others when you give.

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