While the weather in this area has been pretty much par for the course for a typical Iowa winter, a majority of the country has been dealing with situations far from the norm, and far outside their comfort zone. This has created a serious situation for one important life saving service, and your help is needed.

Keith Brofsky - Thinkstock

Recent winter storms nationwide have forced the cancellation of more than 200 American Red Cross blood drives, resulting in nearly 7,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. This shortfall follows more than 26,400 uncollected blood and platelet donations in February due to severe weather across 27 states.  Hospitals, however, always need these collections to allow for both standard and lifesaving blood and platelet transfusions. How urgent is the need? Greg Novinska, CEO of the Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region stated, "Blood products are being delivered to hospitals almost as quickly as they come in. Donors who give now aren’t just restocking our shelves, they are making sure hope continues to be available for patients in need." In fact your simple gift can save 3 lives.

We encourage you to find time to make a donation in the coming days and weeks if you haven't done so recently.  All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply. Some upcoming donation opportunities over the next week around the area include:

Cedar Rapids
3/16/2015: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Grant Wood Chapter Neighborhood Blood Drive, 6300 Rockwell Dr.

3/11/2015: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., American Red Cross, 2530 University Ave
3/12/2015: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., American Red Cross, 2530 University Ave
3/14/2015: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m., American Red Cross, 2530 University Ave
3/18/2015: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., American Red Cross, 2530 University Ave
3/19/2015: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., American Red Cross, 2530 University Ave

3/11/2015: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Wapsie Valley High School, 2535 Viking Ave

3/18/2015: 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Independence HS, 700 20th Ave SW

3/12/2015: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Maquoketa Valley Middle School, 210 South Street

There's plenty more in upcoming weeks as well. To find a convenient donation opportunity and schedule an appointment, donors can download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).