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Holiday Heroes Give Lifesaving Gifts

National Miss Pennsylvania Karissa Grossman, who is also a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, knows the importance of giving blood.
Being a member of the military, I believe it’s important to donate blood. I have friends whose family members have needed blood transfusions.

With holiday activities, inclement weather and seasonal illnesses, December can be a difficult time for the American Red Cross to collect enough blood and platelet donations to meet patient needs. Blood donors are heroes all year round and even more so during the holidays.

MEET KARISSA GROSSMAN Many people who know her well already consider Karissa Grossman a hero. After graduating from high school in 2011, Karissa joined the military. She currently serves as a private first class in the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Aviation Unit. At the Red Cross, Karissa is also considered a hero for being a regular blood donor.

“I try to donate blood twice a year, every six months,” she said. “Being a member of the military, I believe it’s important to donate blood. I have friends whose family members have needed blood transfusions. And I actually enjoy donating blood!”

As a full-time military technician, Grossman is in charge of her unit’s hazardous materials. That means that when she rolls up a sleeve to give blood, her sleeve sometimes has a familiar Army fatigue pattern. Other times, it’s just as likely to have sequins, because she also happens to be the reigning 2013 National Miss Pennsylvania.

When she’s wearing her crown, Grossman’s official platform is “Stomp Out Bullying.” However, she’s also partnering with the local Red Cross Blood Region on several youth initiatives, including a project to gain more Twitter followers and the annual Lifesaver’s Ball - a multi-site blood drive held in early January.

“I’m so glad to have the chance to work closely with the American Red Cross,” she said. “It should be a fun path, and I can’t wait!”

GIVE SOMETHING THAT MEANS SOMETHING As a blood donor and an advocate for the Red Cross, Grossman is giving patients in need a special gift this holiday season. But you don’t have to be a member of the military or wear a crown to help save lives. All eligible donors are encouraged to spread hope this December by giving a gift that doesn’t cost a thing – a blood or platelet donation.

Platelet donors and blood donors of all types are needed, especially O negative, A negative, B negative and AB. Rh-negative blood types can potentially be transfused to both Rh-positive and Rh-negative patients. Type O negative blood is universal and can potentially be transfused to patients with any blood type, which is why it’s often used in emergency situations.

HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Tags: Blood 2013.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.