The American Red Cross is in the midst of a blood shortage. Although it has increased its blood collections each year for the past four years, the need for blood is outpacing the supply on hand.

Thousands of personal disasters occur every day requiring immediate access to blood. And the American Red Cross always manages to come through. In addition to disasters - blood, in large quantities, is needed daily for cancer patients, burn victims, children with sickle cell anemia and trauma patients.

Medical advancements, such as cardiac surgeries, liver transplants and premature births are also taxing the dwindling supply. These procedures are being performed more frequently, but the blood supply has not increased to meet the needs.

We here in the Amity area have always been known for our generosity - both personally and professionally. Well, its time to roll up that sleeve, grimace while the needle is inserted and show just how generous Amity residents can be.

The American Red Cross offers 10 tips to a successful blood donation. They include; drinking extra fluids before donating, eating regular meals on the day of your donation, not participating in strenuous activity before or after donating, not drinking hot liquids, smoking or chewing gum prior to donating, wearing comfortable clothing and relaxing. Most people find that donating blood is easier than they imagined.

Over the next few weeks, blood drives will be held in Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge and surrounding communities. Find the time to give the gift of life and take an hour out of your busy schedule to help out.

To give blood, you must be healthy, at least 17 years if age and weigh at least 110 pounds.