RICHLAND — Holidays are busy with parties, church events and concerts. People scurry from store to store searching for the perfect gift.
But Tri-City American Red Cross officials said sometimes people lost in the bustle can forget the most precious gift of all.
"Give the gift of life," said Lisa Gallegos, territory representative for the American Red Cross in Richland. "One donation (of blood) can save up to three people. It's the perfect holiday gift this year."
The Richland blood donation center is spearheading a "12 Days of Giving" campaign designed to collect 500 units of blood from donors from Friday through Dec. 23.
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The campaign also is intended to raise awareness for Cardiac Kids Club, a group providing support and raising money for families of children with heart defects.
Many of the children have had surgery that required blood transfusions, Gallegos said.
Donors who sign up to donate on one of the 12 campaign days will receive a gift valued at more than $25 donated by a local organization or business. Each day has a different sponsor and a different gift.
Eligible donors must be over 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and be healthy. For people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, that means being treated for the disease and having blood glucose levels under control.
Everyone who makes an appointment and shows up to donate will get the gift, but an appointment is required and space is limited, Gallegos said.
For example, everyone who made an appointment for Friday and comes to donate will get a Z Place Salon and Spa package, sponsored by Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
Friday's appointments are full, but slots remain for each of the remaining days, Gallegos said.
Gifts for other days include ski or water park tickets for Silver Mountain Ski Resort, tickets for local sporting events, Christmas trees, Ranch & Home gift baskets, wine and gift cards for toys or food.
For a complete schedule of days and gifts or to make an appointment, visit the12daysofgiving.org, or call 943-7802.
Gallegos said the goal is to have the blood tested and available for patients in area hospitals by Christmas.
She added the need often is greater just before the winter holidays.
"We are in constant need just here in our community," she said. "We struggle. The weather hit us bad. We had a lot of people not come because they were nervous about driving. Around the holidays in particular, because we get so busy in our lives, blood donation is one of the last things we think about. Our supplies are a little low right now."