The busy summer season with its long list of activities can be a challenge to the number of blood and platelet donations in the United States.

The American Red Cross kicked off its annual summer awareness campaign, calling for continued donations to ensure availability for patients throughout the season.

“Many Americans will be celebrating the unofficial start to summer this Memorial Day weekend,” said Donna Morrissey, Red Cross Biomedical Services’ national partnerships director. “But seasonal activities that bring joy to so many can also lead to a shortage of blood and platelet donations when regular donors become busy.”

The organization encourages donations around the holiday weekend by giving a Red Cross shirt to those who will offer blood or platelets on May 27 to 31, while supplies last.

Some 14,000 blood donations are needed every single day to support medical patients at around 2,600 hospitals and blood transfusion centers around the country. Volunteer donors play an important role here, according to Red Cross.

There are, however, fewer donors scheduling a blood donation appointment at blood drives from June to August, threatening available supply.

Propane and fuel oil retailer Suburban Propane sponsored the Red Cross campaign, where its employees will also volunteers at blood drives nationwide.

Back in March, the American Red Cross said it significantly needed type O negative blood, which can be given to patients of any blood type. Dubbed “universal,” it is typically used in emergency situations despite less than 7 percent of the U.S. population having this blood type.

According to the Red Cross, donors need to be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 100 pounds. Some states allow 16-year-olds to donate, although those who are below 18 need to meet certain weight and height requirements.

Donors of all types are encouraged to make an appointment. They can download the Red Cross Blood Donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or visit the website RedCrossBlood.org. At check-in, a blood donor card, driver’s license, or two other identification cards will be required.

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