The American Red Cross encourages people to help meet the urgent need for blood and platelets by resolving to give blood this January – National Blood Donor Month.

The critical role of blood and platelet donors has been celebrated each January for nearly 50 years during National Blood Donor Month, which coincides with one of the most difficult times to maintain a sufficient blood supply for patients.

Busy holiday schedules, extreme winter weather and seasonal illnesses often impact donor turnout this time of year. The Red Cross encourages eligible donors to resolve to give blood or platelets regularly, beginning in January.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities through Jan. 31 include:

Coshocton County

• Jan. 22 — Central Ohio Technical College, 200 N. Whitewoman Street, Coshocton, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Jan. 23 — River View High School, 26496 Route 60 North, Warsaw, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tuscarawas County

• Jan. 29 — Newcomerstown East and West schools, 517 Beaver Street, Newcomerstown, 12 to 6 p.m.

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can 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, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position, visit rdcrss.org/driver.