December is the season of giving, and the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is hoping Alberta residents consider offering more than just Christmas presents, this year. According to CBS Territory Manager Lisa Castro, the blood-collection agency sees a decrease in donations during the holiday season, particularly for blood types O negative and A negative. “We really want to encourage more donors to step up and donate blood, especially from Dec. 17 going into the New Year,” she said. “It tends to slow down – people who are regular blood donors often have seasonal commitments, travel plans or they change up their routine.” Every week, Castro said, CBS needs to collect roughly 16,000 units of blood. In the Calgary area – which includes Rocky View County – CBS is looking for more than 4,000 people to step up and donate during the holidays, she added. Since blood products have a limited shelf life, Castro said, demand for donations never stops. “Because, every minute of every day, a patient in Canada needs blood, we need more regular donors to maintain a strong national inventory of blood and blood products to meet patient demands,” she said. “Cancer patients, accident victims and people with blood disorders really rely on blood transfusions every day.” For those who have never donated blood before, Castro said, blood.ca has a quiz you can take to make sure you’re eligible to donate. The website also provides a list of all available donor centres in the country. CBS has permanent clinics in every major Canadian city, she added. The largest clinic in Canada is in Calgary, located on the second floor of the Eau Claire shopping centre. Rocky View County residents will have an opportunity to donate blood Dec. 31 in Cochrane, according to Castro. The Cochrane RancheHouse will be hosting a blood donation clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., she said, and is looking for 150 donors. Castro added CBS relies on community support to help people in need of blood products and transfusions. “Everyone plays an important role in strengthening Canada’s biological lifeline,” she said, adding one in every two Canadians will either need to receive blood or know someone who will need it at some point during their life. “[Donating blood] is one of the most direct ways you can help someone over the holidays."