The month of September is National Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross Blood Program is hoping to use the coming weeks to ensure there is enough blood in stock for nearly 3,000 hospitals around the country.

The blood donation program, which began in 1940, supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood, platelets and plasma supply. The blood that is donated goes to helping people with sickle cell disease, cancer patients and for emergency medical situations. Along with collecting blood donations, the Red Cross provides service to those who have been through a disaster of some kind. 

Rodney King, the external communications manager of the Red Cross, said volunteering through the organization is a great way to help others, especially during the month of September.

Blood Drives: 

Sept. 1: YMCA Northwest located at 3500 N. Chadam Lane from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 22: Pruis Hall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

You can search for an available blood drive near you by visiting www.redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

“Volunteers who give time help make our mission possible,” King said. “There are many ways you can volunteer with the Red Cross, from helping respond to house fires, working at a disaster site, helping to fundraise, serving snacks to blood donors, delivering donated blood to hospitals and more.”

Along with encouraging people to donate blood, the Red Cross urges people to use National Preparedness Month to make sure they're prepared for any potential emergency situations in the future.

“The first step to being prepared for an emergency is to make sure you have your own plans in place for emergency situations,” King said.

The Red Cross encourages people to make a plan, build an emergency kit, get trained on what to do during common emergencies and stay informed of their surroundings at all times.

During the month of September, the amount of blood donations also begins to drop, according to the Red Cross. However, the demand stays the same. 

Ball State students and Muncie residents are encouraged to donate blood during two upcoming blood drives.

The first will be Sept. 1 at YMCA Northwest from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. The second will be on Sept. 22 at Pruis Hall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The entire process, which includes registration, a mini-physical and the actual donation, takes about one hour. Donors are encouraged to complete the Red Cross RapidPass online health questionnaire to reduce wait times.

"Volunteer donors are wanted year-round, but to at least have some newcomers during September would be a great gift to us and those in need, for sure," King said. "The more new faces we see, the more we're able to save."