OAKDALE - The American Red Cross continues the holiday tradition of hosting the 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive, the largest one-day Red Cross blood drive in Minnesota. The blood drive gives area residents the opportunity to share their good health while helping boost the blood supply prior to the holidays.

The 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive will be held 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, at the Envision Event Center (formerly the Prom Center), 484 Inwood Ave. N.

All who come to give blood will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last. Donors will also enjoy live entertainment, complimentary gift wrapping and visits from Santa throughout the day.

In addition, donors will be entered to win hourly prize drawings including a 43 inch smart TV and a HP laptop computer.

"This annual blood drive comes at a crucial time of year for the Red Cross," said Mary Pucel, donor recruitment director for the Red Cross North Central Blood Services Region. "We want to ensure that hospital patients continue to receive the treatment they need throughout the holiday season."

Blood donors of all types are needed to roll up a sleeve to help ensure patients continue to receive blood throughout the holiday season. To make an appointment for the 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive, donors can use sponsor code "12 hours" on the Red Cross Blood Donor App, online at www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767).

A seasonal decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day when donors get busy with family gatherings and travel. However, patients don't get a holiday vacation from needing lifesaving transfusions. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.

How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a computer or mobile device. To get started and learn more, visit www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.