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By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
As the Christmas season wraps up over the weekend, Mississippi Blood Services will be asking the citizens of Starkville to give one last gift: the gift of life.
MBS will hold a blood drive on Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Piggly Wiggly in Starkville.
According to MBS Public Relations Officer Susan Ates, the holiday season is a particularly vital time for blood donations. Even people who donate on a regular basis often put off donating during the holiday season because theyâ€™re busy.
â€śTraditionally during the holidays, we see a decline in blood donations but not a decline in need â€” that actually increases due to travel,â€ť she said.
MBS services 49 hospitals across the state, including OCH Regional Medical Center. It sends out an average of 230 units of blood every day to meet demand, but sometimes MBS just doesnâ€™t have enough. Blood collection organizations all over the country are coming up short, and it is not unusual for MBS to have to look to other states to cover the shortage.
The organization is launching a new campaign at the beginning of the new year â€” Cover Mississippi 2012 â€” as an effort to collect the 80,000 units of blood the state will need next year.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to get those who already donate to donate just once more during the year to help meet the goal,â€ť Ates said.
The MBS Donor Coach will be parked outside of the Piggly Wiggly the day after Christmas. In return for giving, donors will be given a $5 gift card and a T-shirt. Donors must be 17 years old or 16 with a signed parental consent form, weigh at least 110 pounds and have a valid ID.
â€śWhat better way to start off the new year than giving someone the gift of life? Itâ€™s easy, it doesnâ€™t cost anything but a little bit of time, but it benefits so many people,â€ť Antes said. â€śTen minutes of your time can give someone else a lifetime.â€ť
For more information about this and other blood drives, call 1-800-817-7449 or visit http://www.MSBlood.com.