The demand for blood donors is always great, but this time of year it is even more critical because of heavy travel that brings an increase in traffic accidents and the fact that many people are so busy that they can't find the time to donate blood.

January is National Blood Donor Month, and the American Red Cross is gearing up for a national effort to encourage donors.

If you are able, you should consider making a donation.

Since 1970, National Blood Donor Month has been celebrated in an effort to educate Americans about the importance of regular blood donation and the impact it can have.

Every day, around 44,000 pints of blood are needed in hospitals to help treat trauma victims, surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies, cancer patients and more.

January can be an especially challenging month to collect blood donations because of inclement weather and seasonal illnesses.

Everyone age 17 an over and in good health is eligible to give blood.

The next blood donation opportunity in Jefferson County will be Jan. 9 from 2-7 p.m. at King's Daughters' Hospital.

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

A blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Mark your calendar now.