This article was published in The Appalachian.

Severe winter weather has already caused plenty of shortages in Watauga County and at Appalachian State University.

A shortage of class meetings, for one. A shortage of exams actually taken in classrooms. Probably a few shortages of salt, shovels and gloves at local stores.

It has caused another shortage, though, that is much more severe because lives are at stake.“Winter storms are taking their toll on the blood supply,” the Carolinas Region Red Cross tweeted recently.

The influx of snow and ice has kept many people in their homes, causing the cancellation of scheduled blood drives and appointments.

The supply of blood is lower than any January supply in the past 10 years, according to a Red Cross press release.

That means that hospital patients across North Carolina and the United States are waiting for blood transfusions.

Just picture those people for a second. Five-year-olds with cancer. 19-year-olds who had surgery and aren’t recovering properly. 50-year-olds who needed kidney transplants. People who have been through so much already.

Then think about the fact that you can help them.

The Red Cross needs donors of every blood type, according to the press release – especially those with type O negative blood, often referred to as “universal donors.”

Giving blood isn’t difficult. You make an appointment. You bring your ID. You read a short binder of information. You answer a few questions. You sit in a chair. You save a life.

There are several blood drives coming up in the Watauga County area: at Holiday Inn Express in Boone on Feb. 1, at the Wal-Mart shopping center on Feb. 4, at Grace Lutheran Church on Feb. 12, and at Mountaineer Village on Feb. 14.

To schedule an appointment for any of these drives, or to schedule a separate appointment at Red Cross headquarters, locate “Find a blood drive near you,” on the home page and enter 28608 or 28607 as your zip code.

Of course, there are those who can’t donate for various reasons – I happen to be one of them – but we’re not absolved of responsibility.

For volunteer opportunities or information on hosting your own blood drive, visit redcrossblood.org/volunteer.

So often it’s easy to think that we can’t do much to change our world – that we’re just one person and there’s nothing we can do.

But here is a real, visible need in our community and here’s something we can do about it.

Let’s go do it.

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