The need for life-saving blood doesn't take a break for the holidays. So the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center is calling on all donors willing to save lives in December.

Due to the center's primary donor pool going home for the holidays, the staff is calling all remaining military members, retirees and their Families to give blood to the Armed Services Blood Program Dec. 16 through 30, so requirements in Afghanistan and other contingency locations around the world can be met.

"We need as many people as possible to come and donate because while our main donor pool goes away for Holiday Block Leave, the need for blood doesn't," said Maj. James Burke, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center officer in charge. "Donating blood is one way everyone can pitch in and help people recover from illness or injury. It doesn't cost anything but a few minutes of your day and the benefits are life-saving and life-changing."

Everyone's invited to ASBP blood drives set for:

-- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Main Exchange

-- 7 a.m. to noon Dec. 21 in Lincoln Hall Auditorium

-- 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec 28 in the Primary Care Conference Room at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital

Potential blood donors must be 17 years old or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and be feeling well for at least three days. They must also be well hydrated; and have eaten something before donating. Those wanting to donate should bring a list of foreign countries traveled to and a photo ID (military ID, driver's license, etc).

If you can't make these drives, the donor center, located at the corner of Kansas and Iowa avenues, is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday for walk-in donors.

You can also make an appointment by calling 573.596.0131, ext. 65385 or e-mailing carl.a.norman2.civ@mail.mil.

The ASBP is the official blood collection agency for the U.S. military. Its mission is to provide blood to military treatment facilities around the world.

"From Afghanistan to right here at home, military members and their Families need blood to recover from illness and injury every day, especially during the holidays," said Marty Ricker, ASBP donor recruitment director. "The military medical system needs about 400 units of blood every day to meet routine requirements and it's ASBP's mission to provide that blood."

Burke said blood is a single-source commodity and that source is caring people who want to help others.

"If you have your health celebrate it by donating blood to those who are not as fortunate," he said. "You can even make it a Family affair during the holidays -- bring all your visiting relatives with you to donate. What better gift to give someone that a second chance at life."

For more information, call Norman at 573.596.0131, ext. 65385. For more information on the Armed Services Blood Program visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil.

(Editor's note: Norman is the Fort Leonard Wood Armed Services Blood Program blood donor recruiter.)