The American Red Cross wants your blood.

And you'll have the chance to give it to them during a blood drive on Friday, March 6, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Union gym. Sign-ups to give blood are already underway and will continue the rest of the week outside the cafeteria.

"There is constant need for blood," said Meghan Hoover, a senior and community volunteer service assistant for campus ministries. "We have it; others need it. It takes only a small fraction of the day to give. You get to hang out with friends and lie around in comfy chairs while you do it. And you get free snacks and drink."

However, not everyone is eligible to donate blood. The most common reason Goshen College students are ineligible is because of Study-Service Term, and potential blood contributors are asked to wait 12 months after traveling to a country with malaria.

You also must be 17 years old and weigh more than 110 pounds, and might also be ineligible if your iron level is too low.

For a comprehensive list of requirements, visit the American Red Cross Web site at

But if you are ineligible, you can still help out by volunteering during the blood drive. Volunteers are needed at the registration table and canteen tables, as well as to assist those who are able to give.

If you have already signed up to donate blood, make sure you follow the American Red Cross' tips for having a positive blood giving experience.

Among other things, make sure you are rested, hydrated and have eaten a good breakfast on donation day. Also, make sure to eat iron rich foods before you donate, including: red meat, fish, poultry or liver, beans, iron-fortified cereals, raisins and prunes.

After donating, make sure to drink plenty of water the next 24-48 hours and avoid heavy lifting.

"Blood donations save lives," said Tamara Shantz, a campus pastor and coordinator of the event. "Whether for people who have been in accidents or whatever the reason might be, blood transfusions can't happen without donated blood. It's something we have plenty of and there is very little effect on the individual who gives blood. So aside from any needle phobias, it is a simple way to make a significant difference in someone's life."