During National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, the American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give blood to help maintain a stable and diverse blood supply for patients in need.

Red blood cells carry markers that determine one’s blood type, and some blood types are unique to certain racial and ethnic groups. Blood from donors of the same ethnic background as the recipient is less likely to cause complications, so the Red Cross must maintain a diverse blood supply to meet these patient needs.

Whether blood is needed for a chronic condition such as sickle cell disease, a surgical procedure or a large-scale emergency, it is the blood on the shelves that helps save lives.

Those who come out to give blood or platelets through Sept. 30 will receive a free haircut coupon via email, courtesy of Sport Clips Haircuts. The coupon is valid through Nov. 6 at participating Sport Clips locations. Donors must have a valid email address on record to receive the coupon.

To make an appointment: redcrossblood.org, 800-733-2767.

Donors are encouraged to make appointments and complete the RapidPass online health history questionnaire at redcrossblood.org/rapidpass to help reduce wait times.

Local donation centers:
Webster Public Library, 980 Ridge Road: 1-6 p.m. Sept. 22.

Baytowne Plaza, 1900 Empire Blvd., Webster: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 24.

Castle Pointe at Baywinde, 200 Kidd Castle Way, Webster: 1-6 p.m. Sept. 27.