Here’s a gift idea that will help put you in the holiday spirit. It will not help you mark “done” on your gift list but may save a life. If you’re feeling well today, have mailed all your Christmas cards, and wrapped all your presents, consider this last-minute, life-affirming idea.
Let me begin by saying that I am not a representative of the Red Cross, just an occasional and sometimes reluctant blood donor. My experiences at their blood donation centers and mobile sites have ranged from pleasant (when door prizes were offered to donors and I snagged homemade goodies) to slightly annoying (when less-than-attentive attendants have not offered to retrieve much needed orange juice), and I have never been particularly encouraged by the organization’s plea to build inventory of blood supplies.
Nevertheless, several years ago on a Christmas Eve, I drove through a light snow to my city’s donor facility, privately answered the slew of I-can’t-believe-anyone-would-ask-that questions, submitted to finger prick and needle insertion, and waited patiently for my blood to flow. What stands out from this particular visit was a label on the bag that would hold my blood. It was marked with a designation that indicated to me that my blood would go to directly and immediately to a young child; I’ve never seen such a label before or since. Anyway, it was a nice reminder that there are real people in hospitals who receive blood transfusions every day, including holidays.
In the interest of promoting how blood donation can benefit frugal living, here are the possibilities:
- If you missed or just couldn’t afford to pony up for the adopt-a-family gift at your office, you can still give without costing yourself a dime;
- You’ll receive a mini-physical consisting of temperature, blood-pressure, and pulse checks and determination of your iron level;
- You may receive incentives, such as gifts or opportunities to win prizes that representatives of local sites or blood drives have solicited (for example, I have received t-shirts and a Christmas ornament; and won a gift card to a local nursery).
To find a blood donation center or learn more about the process, visit givelife.org.
Note: The t-shirt featured was accidentally washed with a yellow crayon; I have received another t-shirt in the past couple of years but it was an XXL (I'm 5') and so I donated it to a friend who organizes local blood drives and can find a larger donor.