Officials with the Rock River Valley Blood Center are putting out the call for blood and platelet donations.

While there's always a need for help, the RRVBC says holiday weekends usually see an increase in blood usage at area hospitals and a dip in collections. That's largely due to donor travel and blood center locations being closed on Labor Day.

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Officials say healthy blood donors with types O, A and B are needed. Eligible platelet donors are especially important due to the short five-day shelf life of those lifesaving products.

You can help if you are at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in general good health. Officials say 16-year-olds may donate with parental consent. Persons taking medications are not necessarily disqualified.

There are four community donor centers throughout the area in Belvidere, Freeport, and Rockford as well as many mobile blood drives.  You can log on to the RRVBC's website for hours, directions and mobile blood drive schedules. Or for more info call toll free at 877-RRVBC-99.