The local blood supply is something people likely don't think much about until they - or a loved one - need it.
Busy schedules, distaste for needles or simple unfamiliarity with the need can keep people from donating blood. So there's a reliance on the old standbys - the people who consider it their duty or find it easy enough to stop down to the break room when the workplace is holding a drive. Often students at high schools and universities are the ones stepping up through school-sponsored donation drives.
But there are times - like this time of year - when those students are out of class, those regular donors are on the road for a July 4 vacation or worksite blood drives are on hold for the summer. And that cuts sharply into resources.
The BloodCenter of Wisconsin traditionally sees summer donations drop by about 20 percent. The center must collect about 800 units of blood each day to serve 59 hospitals statewide, according to Vicki Bohman, of the BloodCenter's donor center in Marshfield. And some of those hospitals receive all their donations from the blood center.
Each day the Red Cross needs 17,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients across the country. On average, during the summer two fewer donors give blood at each Red Cross blood drive than what patients need.
But while donations drop off, accidents, surgeries and other needs don't. The demand is still there.
Consider stepping up. Maybe you've never done it before. Add it to our bucket list and see what it's all about.
If you're not a newcomer, help yourself to a free cookie or cup of juice and remember what it's like to give something of yourself that is easy, safe and potentially lifesaving to someone in need. You don't have to commit - even a one-time donation from a few of us will boost supplies during what is sure to be another summer shortage.
Type O-negative blood is needed most because it fits patients of any blood type and is often used in emergency situations. But there is demand for all types. And yours could save a life.