JEFFERSON — Fall season brings many positive changes: crisp, cooler evenings; pumpkin spice versions of almost every snack or beverage; and even a feeling that holidays are right around the corner with the reminder that gratitude is the best attitude. It’s a time to continue thinking about helping others in a life-saving way, especially during a pandemic. Blood donation is a way you can do that.

There is no substitute for blood. Because blood cannot be manufactured, donating it for someone else is literally a gift of the life-sustaining kind. Thankfully, local organizations are stepping up to host community blood drives even as the total number of drives is down, due to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

Marion County Police and Fire Departments will host a drive from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at 305 E. Austin St. at the Visitor and Tourism Building. For more information, or to schedule an appointment time, contact Chief Florentino Perez at (903) 665-7159.

Carter BloodCare continues to offer COVID-19 antibody testing on successful donations, for a limited time. Donors can retrieve their results within one to two weeks through a secure portal on the blood center’s web site that donors set up following a donation.

To reduce wait times, appointments are encouraged and blood donors can fill out the medical history questionnaire online before they show up to give blood. This helps manage “social distancing.” Carter BloodCare limits the number of donors on each bus and creates greater space between donors beds at indoor blood drives.

Remember to eat a nutritious meal and drink plenty of water at least an hour before giving blood. All donors must weigh at least 110 pounds, feel well on the day of donation, and present a government- issued photo ID each time they give blood.

Potential blood donors may volunteer beginning at age 16 with parental consent; 17-year-olds may give independently and there is no upper age limit for donating blood. For more information on donor eligibility and to make an appointment, call 1-800-366-2834 or visit

For information on donor eligibility and appointments, call or text 800-366-2834 or visit For more information on antibody testing for COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control web site.

Many people know someone that has recovered from COVID-19. A person with the antibodies that helped them survive could be uniquely qualified to help patients currently hospitalized with the disease. The plasma from these recovered patients is called COVID-19 convalescent plasma and it is being transfused to treat COVID-19.