FARMINGTON, Conn. — Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. To help meet the constant demand for lifesaving blood donations and prevent blood shortages this winter, the American Red Cross is urging individuals and organizations to be winter heroes by hosting a blood drive.

Right now, the Red Cross needs about 6,500 additional groups across the country to host blood drives in December, January and February to ensure blood will be there for patients who rely on blood products. In this area, about 250 more blood drive hosts are needed. During the winter, there is often a decrease in the number of blood drives, which can contribute to blood shortages.

To learn more about hosting a blood drive and to sign up, visit Blood drive partners who host a drive between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 will receive long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirts for all who come to give, and if the partner achieves its donation goal, it will be recognized in a national newspaper highlighting its lifesaving work.

Hosting a blood drive

Because more than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives hosted by volunteers, blood drive partners play a vital role in helping ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients in need. In addition to helping save lives, organizations that host blood drives can also build goodwill in their community, bringing people together around a central cause.

Organizing a blood drive is easier than many expect, and blood drive coordinator Joe Turner agrees. Since 2016, Turner has hosted an annual blood drive at his church in memory of his father, Woody, who battled cancer for many years and needed platelets during treatment.

A Red Cross representative works with the host every step of the way, providing planning assistance, tools to recruit blood donors, equipment and supplies, and the trained staff needed to screen donors and collect donations. Blood drive hosts provide a large, open location, identify volunteers to support donor recruitment, and recruit and schedule blood donors. Turner actively recruits blood donors for the drive using social media, flyers and a SleevesUp Campaign.

Upcoming local blood drives

Oct. 22

Foxwoods Resort and Casino, 350 Trolley Line Blvd. in Mashantucket, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Oct. 23

Hugo A. Simonelli VFW Post 3263, 60 Stonington Rd. in Mystic, 12:30 to 6:15 p.m.

Groton Town Police, 68 Long Point Rd. in Groton, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 25

UConn Avery Point, 1084 Shennecossett Rd. in Groton, 8:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

Wheeler High School, 297 Norwich-Westerly Rd. in North Stonington, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 26

Niantic Community Church, 170 Pennsylvania Ave. in Niantic, 12:45 to 6 p.m.

Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, 365 Montauk Ave. in New London, noon to 5 p.m.

Waterford Town Hall, 15 Rope Ferry Rd. in Waterford, 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Oct. 31

Dealertrack, 115 Poheganut Rd. in Groton, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nov. 1

Chelsea Groton Bank, 904 Poquonnock Rd. in Groton, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 2

Waterford Town Hall, 15 Rope Ferry Rd. in Waterford, 12:30 to 6:15 p.m.

Nov. 6

East Lyme Middle School, 31 Society Rd. in Niantic, 1 to 6 p.m.

Nov. 8

Groton City Municipal Building, 295 Meridian St. Ext. in Groton, 1:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 9

Hoxie Firehouse, 34 Broadway Ave. in Mystic, 1 to 6 p.m.

Nov. 10

Mohegan Sun Casino, Route 2A in Uncasville, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nov. 13

Groton Lodge of Elks, 700 Shennecossett Rd. in Groton, 1 to 6 p.m.

Nov. 20

Hugo A. Simonelli VFW Post 3263, 60 Stonington Rd. in Mystic, 12:30 to 6:15 p.m.

Nov. 21

St. David’s Episcopal Church, 284 Stoddard Wharf Rd. in Gales Ferry, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nov. 23

Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, 365 Montauk Ave. in New London, noon to 5 p.m.