UNC Charlotte is working with the American Red Cross to potentially save thousands of lives at the eighth annual 49ers4Life blood drive on Jan. 24.

The drive, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Halton Arena in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center, is one of the largest in the Red Cross Carolinas Blood Service Region.

This blood drive is more important than ever, after severe winter weather impacted the blood supply. Blood products were distributed faster than they were coming in. About 100 blood drives were forced to cancel in December.

On top of that, the holidays impacted it as well, with there being about 1,700 fewer blood drives in November and December than the previous two months. The blood supply received 50,000 fewer donations.

“Winter is one of the toughest times for the American Red Cross to collect enough blood to meet patient needs,” said Jillian Butler, donor recruitment manager for the Red Cross. “When the UNC Charlotte community comes together for this drive, they can help boost the blood supply – and ultimately offer hope to sick children, cancer patients and accident victims.”

To make up for the shortages, organizers are hoping to collect 1,000 pints of blood, a record for the 49ers4Life blood drive. Organizers are encouraging everyone to get involved, including students, alumni, faculty and staff, and community members.

To schedule an appointment, potential donors can download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-REDD-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donors can use RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation. At check-in, donors will need a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification.

All those who donate will receive a “I bleed 49ers Green” T-shirt while supplies last and some free ice cream from campus vending sponsor, Canteen. There will also be free food from other restaurants. They will also be entered for two drawings: a UNC Charlotte academic year parking permit for 2018 and a Charlotte 49er apparel, gear and tailgating package from Barnes & Noble.

Alexandria Sands is the Niner Times' community editor. She is a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and English. Her work has been published in Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Business Journal, Creative Loafing, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star and The State Port Pilot. When she's not in the newsroom, you can catch her reading a book at her home in Oak Island. Reach her at community@ninertimes.com or @alexsands_.