WILLMAR — The American Red Cross is currently experiencing a blood shortage throughout the country, creating a heightened need for donors.

As more and more Americans awaken from their pandemic hibernations, the need for lifesaving blood is on the rise and the Red Cross is adding a little something extra to the well-known juice and cookies — Amazon gift cards.

In addition to the gift cards, donors have the chance to win “free gas for a year.”

The promotion runs July 7-31.

the Red Cross said in a news release that some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying crucial patient care.

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To give blood you must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health.

You can give blood every 56 days. Double red cells can be donated every 112 days.

While all blood types are needed, type O and type B-negative donors are especially encouraged to give.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license/state-issued ID or two other forms of identification, such as a work identification, Social Security card, personal check or credit card, which are required to check in. Personalized mail such as a utility bill will not be accepted.

Schedule an appointment to give blood now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Blood drives

Donors are encouraged to make an appointment to secure a spot as availability is limited. The following blood drives in the region had appointments remaining as of publication deadline.

July 8, Sunburg: 1 to 7 p.m., Hope Lutheran Church

July 12, Willmar: 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., Assembly of God Church

July 15, Belgrade: 1 to 7 p.m., St. Francis de Sales parish center

July 16, Willmar: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Calvary Lutheran Church

July 19, Spicer: 1 to 7 p.m., Faith Lutheran Church

July 20, Hancock: 1 to 7 p.m., The Bridge

July 20, Willmar: 1 to 7 p.m., Living Hope Church

July 21, Willmar: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Vinje Lutheran Church

July 21, Cosmos: 1 to 7 p.m., City Center

July 26, Granite Falls: 1 to 7 p.m., Kilowatt Center

July 26, Willmar: Noon to 6 p.m., American Legion

July 27, Willmar: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Willmar Community Center

July 30, Olivia: Noon to 6 p.m., Renville County Government Services Center