Give the gift of life this season

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By The Staff

What does everyone have, yet everyone needs? You can give it and get it. No one can recreate it and there is no substitute for it, but you can use someone else’s. And if you don’t have it, or get it, you’ll die?

You guessed it, the correct answer is blood.

What better time than the holidays to kick off our Season of Giving? Florida’s Blood Centers (FBC) is proud to partner with the Florida Association of Food Banks and Publix for this annual campaign. Though many of us are tightening the purse strings, we might just be more likely to roll up our sleeves and give not money, but our blood.

Perhaps it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that throughout our community, people are in need financially and medically. As Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas reported recently, more and more Central Floridians are turning to food banks to feed themselves and their families because of economic hardship. This is a troubling truth made more poignant during the holidays, but there is something that we can all do that won’t cost anything but a few minutes.

The demand for blood is especially acute. Medical emergencies cannot be scheduled, and our community’s blood supply must be constantly replenished. At any given moment, there’s only 72 hours worth of blood available. If a terrible accident or natural disaster strikes, the supply can diminish in hours. Even more daunting is the fact that only about five percent of those eligible to donate blood actually do so.

As the holidays approach, the need for blood and food reaches a peak simply because more people are out and about “bumping into each other.” You may ask yourself: what can I do as an individual to help meet my community’s need for these essentials?

We have an answer. Make a donation that takes nothing but time, gives life, as well as a free mini physical that now includes screening for diabetes. When you donate blood with FBC, now through Dec. 31, not only will your blood be used to treat patients in need at local hospitals, you will also receive a gift card worth $10 that you can use at any Publix supermarket.

Alternatively, you may choose to direct FBC to donate the gift card to your local food bank to distribute to those in need. That way, your donated blood, along with the re-distributed Publix supermarket card, will stay right in the community where you donate and live.

Either way, you’ll give and receive. Even if it’s just getting a good feeling, it will last far longer than the current campaign.

To donate, simply visit the FBC branch office or the Big Red Bus in your community.

Florida’s Blood Centers-Marion County office (near the downtown hospitals), 1051 S.W. 1st Ave. Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For information on blood donation, potential donors are encouraged to visit

www.floridasbloodcenters.org, or call 732-0175.

Remember, like food, there is no substitute for human blood.

Anne K. Chinoda is president and CEO of Florida’s Blood Centers, which provides blood to more than 70 hospitals and medical facilities throughout central and south Florida.