Our Community: Give the Christmas gift of blood

Canadian Blood Services is asking people to consider saving a life as the greatest gift one can give this holiday season.

Blood donations between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5 are essential to collect platelets, a vital blood component many patients living with cancer or a blood disorder need for treatment.

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The call for blood donors to book now to help patients during this period is because platelets have a short expiry period of seven days.

Holidays affect collection hours, so every blood donation counts during the holiday season.

“Everything we do to help patients in Canada depends on donors. In 2020, Canada needs over 100,000 new blood donors to keep up with demand,” said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations.

With the support of donors, Canadian Blood Services issued more than one million blood components to more than 700 hospitals across Canada in 2018-19.

You can make an appointment to donate through the GiveBlood app or by calling 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).Walk-in appointments are also available at all locations.

For more information, or to book online, go to blood.ca.

Red Umbrella Day calls for sex workers’ safety

Tuesday was Red Umbrella Day, an international day to end violence against sex workers.

AccessBC used the day to call on the British Columbia government to make prescription contraception products free in 2020.

Dec. 17 is a day marked around the world to show solidarity with sex workers, and to mourn sex workers who have been lost and harmed due to violence.

“Sex work is work, and sex workers deserve to work in conditions that are safe and healthy,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “For many sex workers, one of the tools they need to work safely is their contraception of choice. Unfortunately, sex workers often face additional barriers in accessing contraception, which can expose them to unnecessary health risks while trying to make ends meet.”

Prescription contraception is expensive. An intra-uterine device can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month and hormone injections as much as $180 per year.

“For people who already face extra challenges in accessing contraception, cost can be the factor that tips the scale,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, co-founder and chair of AccessBC. “No one should be forced to work in dangerous conditions because they can’t afford the tools that would help keep them safe.”

For more information, go to accessbc.org.

Sooke students collect record food donations

Students from the Sooke School District have collected a record amount of donations toward their 10,000 Tonight campaign.

On Dec. 11, students and parent drivers hit the streets, picking up non-perishable food donations, such as canned goods, pasta noodles and cookies.

This year, all three secondary schools in the school district worked together to collect 43,880 items for needy families in the Western Communities, Sooke and Port Renfrew.

“We are very proud of the hard work our secondary schools put into this event,” said Scott Stinson, superintendent of schools. “Once again, students, staff and parent volunteers went above and beyond to ensure their friends and neighbours don’t go hungry this holiday season.”

The event was originally launched in 2009 at Belmont Secondary, with the goal to collect 10,000 non-perishable food items in a single night.

Since then, it has become one of the biggest food drives on lower Vancouver Island, with all donations going to the Goldstream and Sooke food banks.

For more information, go to sd62.bc.ca.

Auxiliary’s poinsettia sales raise funds for VGH

Once again, members of the Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary have been busy, selling close to 700 poinsettias during their seasonal Poinsettias for Patients campaign, to raise money for the hospital.

For the past decade the auxiliary has sold plants to finance amenities and equipment for the hospital.

“It’s amazing that the hospital auxiliary sold almost 700 plants to decorate businesses and homes for the holidays, but even more awesome that 88 people anonymously purchased poinsettias for people stuck in hospital over the holidays,” said Val Smith, auxiliary vice-president.

“We are trying to improve the ambulatory lab and make it more kid-friendly. Having blood taken can be traumatic enough, so we’re trying to make it feel more calming.”

The auxiliary fundraises principally through the concourse gift shop and selling Purdy’s chocolates.

The Poinsettias for Patients campaign sells plants grown at Hilltop Greenhouses. They arrive to be sorted at Strawberry Vale Community Centre and are picked up and delivered at the end of November.

For more information, go to vgha.ca.

Clean out your closet for Cool Aid coat drive

Help your neighbours stay warm during the 12th Annual Cool Aid Labour Pool Coat Drive, now until Jan. 6, 2020.

It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s wet. The perfect time to clean out your closet and help make hundreds of people warmer, healthier and happier.

Cool Aid clients need coats, jackets, mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, socks, sweaters, footwear, sleeping bags and blankets.

Please drop off your warm clothing 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays until Monday, Jan. 6, at Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool, 465 Swift St. (near Wharf). For more info call Wendy at 250-388-9296.

For more information, go to coolaid.org.

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