Starting on Friday, you can help save a life by lending your arm to the American Red Cross.

13 WMAZ is partnering with The American Red Cross this holiday season for several blood drives.

It's a gift that's free of charge, and Bethany Howard knows this life saving donation can be the perfect gift for someone. “I am donating today and I'm excited,” said Howard. “I have a cousin who has sickle cell anemia and he needs blood transfusions every six to twelve weeks.”

During the winter and summer months, the American Red Cross sees donations decline each year even though the need for blood never stops.

“Only about 38 percent of the population is elligible to donate... but only two percent actually does during this time,” said Tammy Bearden, with the Red Cross.

“I know every hospital in the state is seeing a decrease as well... There's just not that many donors at this time,” said Jenny Pieterick, Blood bank technical leader with the Medical Center Navicent Health. “Usually O- is at the top of the list... O+ is next.”

The low supply can cause the hospital to look in other areas to fill the need. “Sometimes we have to use a secondary blood supplier to fulfill our needs if another supplier has a surplus in another region,” said Pieterick.

Bearden says... It only takes a few minutes to save a few lives. “When you're donating be sure to bring a picture I-D if you have the blood donor app on your phone than that serves as your I-D.”

The first blood drive started today at 2pm and lasts until 7pm at the Galleria Mall in Centerville.

And that's not the only opportunity you have to donate blood this weekend.

Tomorrow... the Galleria is hosting another blood drive... it will start at noon and go until five. On Sunday... donors can head over to the Bass Pro Shops in Macon from 10 am to 3 pm to give blood.