The American Red Cross has a constant and ongoing need for blood and platelet donations. Blood drives locally help meet the need, but they can’t do it without your help. As hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused due to the pandemic, donors are urged to give now to ensure blood products are readily available. Passionate about giving blood, Helena Red Cross Account Manager, Nona Keeler, provides a unique perspective on the importance of giving blood. “I started volunteering at blood drives when I was 16,” said Keeler. “I started donating blood when I was 18 while in college, volunteered as the Blood Program Leader at Carroll College for four years and am working on my tenth gallon.” Since each donation can help up to three people, Keeler believes it’s not only the right thing to do, but that it is the best way she knows to make a positive impact on the world around her. Finding a reason to give blood may come through a story like this, because you have been asked by a friend or you have a family member or friend who may need blood. Whatever your reason, the need is constant and your contribution is important for a healthy and reliable blood supply and you’ll feel good knowing you've helped change a life. The Red Cross Donor Center located at 3150 N. Montana Ave. is currently scheduling appointment slots for the Feb. 25th Federal Reserve and National Guard blood drives as well as the Feb. 26th drive at the Department of Transportation. There are drives at the Capitol on March 3rd, at the Donor Center on March 4th, and the VA on March 5th. You can schedule an appointment to give by using the Red Cross Donor App, by going to www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-733-2767. Plan an hour for the appointment. Your temperature will be taken, you will register, provide a brief health history, donate (averages about 10 minutes) and have a snack after. You can save about 15 minutes by filling out a RapidPass in advance at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/manage-my-donations/rapidpass.html. The RapidPass allows you to answer questions about your health history before arriving on site. To prepare; stay hydrated, eat an iron-rich diet and have a meal before your appointment. Bring your ID and wear a mask. By giving blood, you can help build a healthier community right here in Helena. The Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may help current coronavirus patients in our community in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.