RICHLAND -- On the second day of Christmas, my Red Cross gave to me ... a tattoo and a nose ring?
The Tri-City chapter of the American Red Cross is raising a few eyebrows by offering a selected tattoo or body piercing from Monarch Tattoos as part of its "12 Days of Giving" blood donation campaign.
Lisa Gallegos, territory representative in Richland, said she thought the gift was a creative way to let people know about a change to state law this year that eliminates the one-year waiting period before people who get tattoos are allowed to give blood, as long as they get inked at a state-licensed shop.
"I know it sounds strange that we're doing it, but with the law changing, we thought it would be a good way to get the message out to the public that they can donate," she said.
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The "12 Days of Giving" campaign is designed to entice Tri-Citians to donate blood during the holidays by offering incentives worth at least $25.
The goal is to collect 750 units of blood. Last year's campaign resulted in more than 500 units being donated, Gallegos said.
And convincing people to donate is critical. Blood and platelet supplies have been low all year, possibly because the uncertain economy has led to fewer businesses having blood drives, she said.
"This year we had a tough year," she said. "We have been on critical need several times throughout the year. We are hurting right now even more."
Donors who sign up to donate on one of the 12 campaign days will receive a gift valued at more than $25 donated by a local organization or business. Each day has a different sponsor and a different gift.
Eligible donors must be over 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and be healthy. For people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, that means being treated for the disease and having blood glucose levels under control.
Everyone who makes an appointment and shows up to donate will get the gift, but an appointment is required and space is limited, Gallegos said.
For example, everyone who makes an appointment for Friday and comes to donate will get a Z Place Salon and Spa package, sponsored by Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
The tattoo or piercing is being offered to people who make appointments to donate Saturday.
Other gifts include Tri-City Americans or Fever tickets, gift cards to local stores and restaurants, skiing and water park passes and a tin of Cougar Gold cheese.
For a complete schedule of days, gifts and blood drive locations, or to make an appointment, go to www.the12daysofgiving.org, or call 943-7802.