The nights are getting shorter and the days are getting longer. Daylight savings time is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: it’s March.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and we’re already three months into the not-so-new year. New Year's Resolutions are not that new (but hopefully alive and well) and the winter months are starting to thaw into distant memory.

March is the month of many occasions: Spring Break and the Oscars, just to name a couple. But March is also home to Red Cross Month, an important reminder to celebrate the real-life heroes in our lives.

Not all heroes wear capes and Red Cross Month showcases the everyday heroics of brave volunteers.

Here is how Red Cross Month came to be and how you can keep the festivities going for the whole month.

The Red Cross Origin Story

Every hero needs an origin story, and it doesn’t get much more heroic than how the American Red Cross came to be.

The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881. Ever since then, it has set out to help those in need through efforts like blood donations, disaster relief, and international development.

Barton led the American Red Cross for 23 years. During that time, she helped develop the U.S.’s first domestic and overseas disaster relief effort and aided the U.S. military during the Spanish-American War.

She also pushed the so-called “American Amendment,” which  “[enabled] the global Red Cross network to provide peacetime disaster relief.

More than half a century later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed March to be Red Cross Month in 1943 (fun fact: the president also acts as honorary chairman of the American Red Cross).

He also set a fundraising goal of $125 million, which was unheard of at the time. By June of the same year, donations reached nearly $146 million. President Roosevelt called it the “greatest single crusade of mercy in our history.”

Every U.S. president since has declared March to be Red Cross Month.

Since then, the American Red Cross has been at the forefront of disaster relief efforts, stateside and abroad. In fact, the Red Cross responds to a crisis of some kind every eight minutes, according to its website.

Now that we know the heroic beginnings of Red Cross Month, let’s learn how to make March a month-long showcase of kindness, compassion, and selflessness.

Donate Blood

As mentioned earlier, blood donations are one of the central tenets of the American Red Cross. With that being said, what better way to celebrate Red Cross Month than a not-so-random act of kindness?

Believe it or not, you can donate blood to the Red Cross in multiple ways. Your donation will vary by donation type, which are:

  • Whole blood donation - every 56 days
  • Power Red donation - every 112 days
  • Platelet donation - every 7 days
  • AB Elite plasma donation - every 28 days
Each donation type has its own requirements, so visit the “Requirements by Donation Type” page on the American Red Cross website.

Some interesting facts about blood donations include:

  • One donation can help save multiple lives
  • Type O is the most requested blood type by hospitals
  • Many cancer patients will need blood donations
  • A car accident victim may require up to 100 units of blood.
  • About 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood

Check out the Red Cross’s “Facts About Blood Needs Page” for more information.

Host a Blood Drive

The joy of Red Cross Month is you don’t have to celebrate it alone. Just like how it takes a village to run an efficient independent pharmacy, multiple blood donations are better than one.

Celebrate Red Cross Month by hosting a blood drive or helping your community host one.

Hosting an event like this raises awareness of the importance of blood drives. Furthermore, your independent pharmacy’s involvement will further solidify its status as a pillar of the community.

All in all, hosting a blood drive is a way to enrich your community’s health and further improve your pharmacy’s reputation. Your patients’ health is the lifeblood of your independent pharmacy after all.

Visit the “How Hosting a Blood Drive Works” page to get the ball rolling.

Take a Class

They say knowing is half the battle. However, all that knowledge won’t get you far unless you also walk the walk.

The Red Cross offers several class programs to learn lifesaving skills.

It’s entirely up to you how you want to take these classes. Whether you prefer learning virtually within the comfort of your own home or long for the nostalgia of a classroom, these classes have you covered.

Some of the skills you can learn and be certified for include:

  • CPR
  • Administering first aid
  • AED
  • Child care
  • Lifeguarding

Hopefully, you won’t have to use these skills in a real-life situation, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Donate and Volunteer

Sometimes the simplest way to help can be the best. Donating to non-profits ensure that they continue their noble crusade — and donating to the Red Cross is no exception.

Check out the “Donation” page on the Red Cross website to get started.

You can also register as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Volunteers make the Red Cross world go round. Your selfless work and generosity reinforce the Red Cross’s mission to help those in need during times of great distress.

It’s understandable that — as an independent pharmacist — that you might not have the time to volunteer. Even so, let your patients know about the myriad of opportunities to push the American Red Cross forward.

Lend a Helping Hand this Red Cross Month

The beauty of holidays (or holi-months) like Red Cross Month is that the celebration doesn’t need to end after you turn the page on your calendar.

Disaster never strikes at a good time, and Red Cross Month is a great time to raise awareness of the organization’s great importance.

Whether you want to donate blood, host a community blood drive, volunteer, donate, or learn a lifesaving skill, do your part in making the world just a little safer.

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