The American Red Cross urges those who have never given blood before as well as those who haven't given recently to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now and help sustain a sufficient community blood supply this summer.

While the need for blood is constant during the summer months, the Red Cross experiences a drastic decline in new donors. Nationwide, about 32 percent fewer new blood donors. Additionally, many schools where blood drives are held and where new donors give are not in session, and current donors often delay giving due to summer vacation plans.

While about 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood, less than 10 percent of those eligible actually do. The blood donation process takes about an hour with the actual donation only taking about 10 minutes. Whether new to donating blood or a lifelong donor, the Red Cross offers helpful tips for an enjoyable donation experience:

1. As much as possible, eat iron-rich foods leading up to your donation.

2. Hydrate drink an extra 16 oz. of liquid before and after the donation.

3. Have a healthy meal before the donation.

4. Wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.

5. Complete a RapidPass on the day of donation, prior to arriving, to save time.

6. Remember to bring a picture ID, blood donor card or two other forms of identification.

"Every day, we have thousands of lives to help save, but blood and platelet donations often do not keep pace with hospital demand during the summer months," said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. "In less time than it can take to go out to eat, you can make a lifesaving difference for cancer patients, accident victims and others in need."

Appointments can be scheduled by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visitingredcrossblood.orgor calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Belmont County:

Martins Ferry

6/13/2017: 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., The Ladder Company Fire Station, 4th and Locust Streets

How to donate blood

Download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visitredcrossblood.orgor call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. Those who come out to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross June 7 through World Blood Donor Day on June 14 will receive a limited-edition Nexcare Give bandage with the theme "Roll up a sleeve and give where you live," featuring vibrant city-inspired designs reflecting landmarks and locales from around the globe. Individuals who are 17 years of agein most states(16 with parental consentwhere allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.