Red Cross: Free Travel for Lucky Blood Donors

American Red Cross's southern region chooses novel way to replenish blood supply.

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Southerners and snowbirds, take note: Donate blood between now and March 31 and you could be eligible to win a pair of airline tickets to anywhere Delta flies domestically. The American Red Cross's southern region will award 15 pairs of tickets to blood donors in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Puerto Rico, southern Mississippi, and northern Florida (panhandle and Jacksonville area) as part of a promotion to shore up their supplies following the holidays.

You don't have to be a resident to be eligible, according to April Phillips, a spokesperson for the Red Cross's southern blood services region. Vacationers and business travelers in participating regions who stop by to donate are welcome as well. "In times like this, people don't have a lot of extra money," and this is a way to get something back while doing something good, says Phillips.

Even though the airline ticket promotion is limited to the southern region, the Red Cross is constantly in need of blood nationwide. The organization must collect 38,000 pints of blood every day to meet demand by hospitals and other organizations. In addition to a falloff in donations by adults over the holidays, high school and college students make up nearly a quarter of all blood donations, and they donate less during school vacations, says Phillips. You can call 800-GIVELIFE or log on to givelife.org to find blood drives in your area.

There are a few situations that temporarily disqualify people from donating. They include travel to certain countries with high malaria risk, having a fever, or having low levels of iron in the blood. But even if people are turned away from donating, they can still win the plane tickets, says Phillips. Just making the attempt counts.