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MERRILLVILLE — During January, National Blood Donor Month, the American Red Cross encourages people to roll up their sleeves to give blood to help maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients.

Since 1970, National Blood Donor Month has been observed to not only honor blood and platelet donors, but also to help increase donations during the winter months. Maintaining a sufficient blood supply for patients is difficult at this time of year because extreme winter weather and seasonal illnesses often impact donor turnout.

Karla Essmiller became a blood donor in college, but the importance of giving blood hit home when several family members had medical emergencies.

“It only takes once sitting in a hospital, praying that your loved one will live through the day, to know how thankful you are for every single thing done to help them,” she said. “Donating blood is a simple gift that I can make that may help up to three people live another day. That makes me feel like a hero.”

Donors with all blood types are needed, especially those with types AB, O, B negative and A negative. To encourage donations, all those who come to donate Friday through Jan. 3 will get a long-sleeve Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

To make an appointment, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App from app stores, visit redcrossblood.org or call (800) 733-2767.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 or older (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 and younger must meet height and weight requirements.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Northwest Indiana:

8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Merrillville Blood Donation Center, 791 E. 83rd Ave., Merrillville

10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Christ Church, 802 Indiana Ave., LaPorte

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Wal-Mart Valparaiso, 2400 Morthland Drive, Valparaiso

3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Bass Pro Shops, 6425 Daniel Burham Drive, Portage

Noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 4, Merrillville Blood Donation Center, 791 E. 83rd Ave., Merrillville

Noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 4, St. Paul Catholic Church, 1855 W. Harrison Blvd., Valparaiso

1 to 7 p.m. Jan. 4, Grace Fellowship Church, 1424 Eighth Street SE, DeMotte

1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 4, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 8955 Columbia Road, Munster

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 4, St. Bridget Church, 107 Main St., Hobart

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 5, Merrillville Blood Donation Center, 791 E. 83rd Ave., Merrillville

Noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 5, St. John United Church of Christ, 101 St. John Road, Michigan City

1:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 5, Highland Parks and Recreation Center, 2450 Lincoln St., Highland

2 to 8 p.m. Jan. 5, Franciscan Omni Health & Fitness Chesterton, 810 Michael Drive, Chesterton

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 6, Jean Shepherd Community Center, 3031 Mahoney Drive, Hammond

Noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 7, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 106 E. 1100 North, Chesterton

12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7, St. Matthias Church, 101 Burrell Drive, Crown Point

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2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 7, Ignited Ministry, 5825 W. Ind. 10, DeMotte

2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7, Valparaiso High School, 2727 N. Campbell St.

Noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 8, Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, 33 Muenich Court, Hammond

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 8, Kingsbury Elementary School, 802 W. 400 South, LaPorte

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 8, St. Joseph Church, 101 C St., LaPorte

8 a.m.to 1 p.m. Jan. 10, Our Lady of Grace Church, 3005 Condit St., Highland

Noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 11, Merrillville Blood Donation Center, 791 E. 83rd Ave.

Noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 11, First Church of God, 2020 E. Lincolnway, LaPorte

1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 11, 1st Source Bank, 14 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 11, Valparaiso Nazarene Church, 2702 Glendale Ave., Valparaiso

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 12, United Methodist Church, 202 W. Church St., Hebron

2:30 to 6 p.m. Jan. 12, Knights of Columbus Hall , 13039 U.S. 41, Cedar Lake

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 13, YMCA Valparaiso, 1201 Cumberland Crossing Drive, Valparaiso

2:30 to  6:30 p.m. Jan. 13, Crown Point Community Library, 122 N. Main St., Crown Point

4 to 8 p.m. Jan. 13, Heritage Lutheran Church, 308 N. Washington St., Valparaiso

1 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14, Town Hall-Municipal Building, 170 S. Grace St., Wheatfield

3 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14, St. Andrew Episcopal Church, 505 Bullseye Lake Road, Valparaiso

3 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14, Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1237 E. Coolspring Ave., Michigan City

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 15, Washington Township High School, 381 E. Ind. 2, Valparaiso

2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 15, Kentland Community Center, 401 N. Fourth St., Kentland

12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15, Midwest Center for Youth and Families, 1012 W. Indiana St., Kouts

8 a.m. to noon Jan. 16, Merrillville Blood Donation Center, 791 E. 83rd Ave., Merrillville

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online on the day of their donation. Visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

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