On Valentine’s Day, show you care by donating blood [United Way column] | Together

February is known for a variety of celebrations. It is the shortest month of the year, but includes Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day. We also celebrate Black History Month in February.

And of course, it’s the snowiest month in Pennsylvania…if you like that type of weather. There is something for everyone in February.

Valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 in many cultures around the world. Originally a Christian feast day, it evolved into a day to express love with flowers, cards and sweets. You can’t go anywhere in the first half of February without seeing hearts.

You can express your love and care for others this year by donating blood. The American Red Cross recently reported the “worst blood shortage ever”, leading to a national crisis. Winter weather conditions, staffing issues and the pandemic have forced many blood drives to be canceled.

For those who might be concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on blood donation, vaccination does not prevent you from donating. Anyone diagnosed with the virus can donate 14 days after the onset of symptoms if they have not had a fever for at least 48 hours. You can make an appointment to donate blood by contacting: Lancaster General Health: LGHealth.org/GiveBlood or call 717-554-0170, or the American Red Cross: redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-771 -0059.

If you are interested in volunteering, you can be a blood drive support volunteer – called a “blood donor ambassador” – which involves managing the blood drive registration and refreshment areas by creating an environment friendly and welcoming to donors.

The Red Cross requires a minimum of one shift per month of approximately five hours. All training is provided and no previous experience is necessary.

blessings of hope

Another way to help our community this month is to volunteer with Blessings of Hope.

Blessings of Hope is a non-profit food outreach center created to be a vital link in the American food chain.

Major corporations effectively donate food through Blessings of Hope to achieve zero food waste and give back to the global community. Their mission is to feed the hungry by facilitating partnerships between food suppliers and non-profit organizations. For more information on volunteer hours, go to blesssofhope.com/volunteer.

To find other volunteer opportunities, visit uwlanc.org/volunteer. Organization volunteer coordinators should submit current and upcoming needs to [email protected]

black history month

Since 1976, every US president has designated February as Black History Month. We take this time to recognize the achievements of African Americans in government, entertainment, art, medicine, education and more.

Lancaster County organizations offer a variety of free activities during Black History Month. And many of them are looking for volunteers for their programs.

– Community Action Partnership and Crispus Attucks Community Center are hosting a month of activities including an art exhibit, Soul Food Thursdays at the cafe and more. For more information, visit lanc.news/CrispusAttucksevents.

– The YWCA Center for Racial and Gender Equity presents “Reclaiming Our Time” via Zoom on Sunday, February 20. For more information, visit lanc.news/ReclaimingTime.

— R Patients Waiting “What is health? Book Club” will hold a discussion on Zoom and Facebook at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 24, titled “Behind Every Wall: Becoming the First Black Female Transplant Surgeon.” See lanc.news/HealthBookClub for details.

— The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and Franklin & Marshall College are collaborating on a virtual exhibit of student and alumni art. The event will be held via Instagram with artwork released throughout the month. For more information, visit lanc.news/PCADBlackHistory.

– Millersville University will host art exhibits and stage performances to honor Black History Month. For a full schedule of events and more details, visit lanc.news/MUBlackHistory.

– The Office of Diversity, Equity and Belonging at Elizabethtown College will be celebrating Black History Month with a variety of events, ending the month with a session of their Ujima Dialogue Series. The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 23. For more information, visit lanc.news/EtownBlackHistory.

Laurel Greer is Community Engagement Associate for United Way of Lancaster County.

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