I gave blood for the first time in my senior year in college, when the American Red Cross came to my campus and made it absurdly easy to sign up. All things considered, I had a good time – unlimited juice and cookies, a free t-shirt (to commemorate the annual blood drive, in which we competed with our rival school for most pints donated), and they paid me compliments. “I bleed quickly, like a man!”, I later told my mom.

When I moved away, I transferred my registration to my new region, and gave a few times a year. But when I looked back this week, I realized I only gave blood once in 2013. I’m lucky to be healthy and able to give blood, and I want to make the time this year. I donate whole blood (rather than platelets, because my blood type is common and received well by many other types – the Red Cross can tell you what you can give most helpfully and who the likely recipients are after you donate blood the first time; I like knowing, so I can picture the three people I’m helping every time I donate), and came up with six times because the Red Cross recommends waiting eight weeks between donations (it takes four to six weeks for your body to build back the pint you donate). 

If you’re thinking about giving more or for the first time, you can learn about eligibility and register with the Red Cross online. You will be richly rewarded with snacks, thank-yous, and if you’re like me, an awesome nap when you’re done.