The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors to give now to ensure blood is available for medical treatments and emergencies during the holiday season.

The organization says blood and platelet donations often decline during the holidays. Regular donors are busy with holiday activities, and travel and severe winter weather may cause blood drive cancellations.

Yet donations remain critical for patients. In thanks for helping meet the urgent need around the holidays, all those who come to donate blood or platelets now through Dec. 19, 2018, will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email. There are some restrictions.

Make an appointment to donate blood or platelets by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Another way to help keep the blood supply strong is to host a Red Cross blood drive this winter. To learn more about hosting a blood drive and to sign up, visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.