Pictured is 3-year-old Shelby, a Pennsylvania girl with a rare blood disorder. She requires a blood transfusion every 21 days.

There is a life-saving gift that people can give this holiday season, and it costs nothing but a few minutes.

Regina Boothe Bratton, who is the external communications manager for the American Red Cross, said there has never been a better time for people to donate blood.

A DuBois blood drive will be held this Friday at VFW Post 813, 114 Fuller Street, from noon-5:30 p.m. A similar event is planned in Clearfield that day from noon-5:30 p.m. at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 1010 Dorey Street.

“We are in an urgent situation with the current blood shortage,” Bratton said. “We often have trouble in the winter months, because people are so busy with the holiday, but this winter, I can only describe the situation as serious.”

Jefferson County blood drives will be held at the Warsaw Township Volunteer Fire Company in Brookville from 1:30-7 p.m. on Dec. 19, and Ss. Cosmas and Damian Church, 205 Chestnut Street in Punxsutawney, from 12:30-6 p.m. Dec. 18.

“We are running into a potential problem of elective surgeries or chemo treatments being postponed,” she said. “The ARC appreciates anything we can do to get the word out.”

Bratton gave an example of a little girl named Shelby, a 3-year-old Pennsylvania girl with a rare blood disorder. She requires a blood transfusion every 21 days, and even through that, she smiles.

“She is just one example of the patients in need who we serve, and who rely on the blood we collect to survive,” she said. “They don’t get a break during the holidays.”

Every unit of blood collected saves up to three patient lives, Bratton says.

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