DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – This time of year with so so much going on and so many distractions, it may be no surprise, blood donations are down.

The American Red Cross says donations typically decline during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available to give and many blood drives may be canceled due to severe winter storms.

Last year, nearly 64,000 fewer blood and platelet donations were given through the Red Cross during the seven weeks from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than the average during the rest of the year, the American Red Cross said in a news release Monday.

A woman donates blood. (credit: Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

“By taking just about an hour of time today, you can help save someone’s life within a few weeks or even days of your donation,” said Jan Hale, communications manager of the Red Cross Southwest Blood Services Region. “We’re asking donors to give now to help ensure blood is available when patients need it most.”

Blood is perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors. Red blood cells, the most transfused blood product, must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, the tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, must be transfused within just five days. More than half of all platelet donations go to cancer patients who may need platelet transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.

“Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said Hale. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”

All blood types are needed this winter.

Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, clicking here or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

For a comprehensive list of upcoming blood donation opportunities in North Texas, click here.