Earlier this year, one of my neighbors was diagnosed with leukemia. He’s a great guy, with little kids, and my neighborhood sprang into action. A meal train, transportation, dog walking, the whole nine yards. We all jumped in to help.

We were also asked to donate platelets because my neighbor needed a lot of them. And if we had a different blood type than my neighbor, they’d still be helping other people who needed them.

I signed up for dog walking (hard, due to small dogs who hate being leashed) and platelet-giving (which doesn’t take any skill other than sitting still, which I’m fairly decent at).

This is me sitting very still and donating platelets. Easy-peasy!

For the past several months, I’ve donated platelets every three weeks because I found myself really enjoying it. You get warm blankets, a cozy chair, free snacks and parking, wi-fi so you can continue to do work, and an hour to save one or two lives. It’s a great and easy way to do a mitzvah.

Earlier tonight, I received an email from UNC’s Blood Donation Center. They don’t have a lot of people signed up to donate platelets throughout the holiday season, and they asked us to spread the word. Here’s what they said: “There are many patients here at our hospital who have been battling critical illnesses such as Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Bone Marrow Cancer over the past few weeks, and many patients in need throughout the holiday season. We strive to meet the hospital’s platelet demand each week to ensure our patients receive the care they need! We only have a few appointments scheduled for the remainder of this week and next, we need your help!

So here’s the word:

You can sign up to donate platelets at UNC Hospital here. Donors must be at least 16 and weigh 110 pounds. There’s some other eligibility requirements here (such as you can’t donate while pregnant and you have to wait a few months after getting a tattoo.)

If you donate with another person, you get free movie tickets or a free Starbucks gift card. I saw Barbie, for free, after donating. If you go with three people, you also get a pizza.

Appointments are throughout the day. After you’re done, you get an email telling you a little bit about the lives you’ve saved. Here’s what my last one said:

Age: 7 Year Old

Gender: Male

Diagnosis: Leukemia

Age: 70’s

Gender: Female

Diagnosis: Leukemia

If you have time and can donate, it’s a really easy and great way to help our community. Here’s the signup again. (And if you’re there on a Tuesday morning, maybe we’ll cross paths!)

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....