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The Red Cross is making an urgent plea for people to give blood and platelets this summer, with donations down significantly.

The American Red Cross is sending out an urgent plea for people to give blood after donations fell short of expectations the past two months.

Nationally, Red Cross is down 61,000 donations, which would amount to the organization not collecting blood for four days.

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Donations normally go down in summer because there are fewer blood drives, especially at schools, and the worst time in summer is around the Fourth of July, the Red Cross said.

“Nearly 700 fewer blood drives are scheduled during the Independence Day week than in the weeks before and after the holiday,” the Red Cross said Wednesday.

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To help alleviate the shortage, local Red Cross staffers and volunteers are holding extra blood drives throughout south-central Wisconsin during the next three weeks.

On Wednesday, a special blood drive called Beach Days is going on at the Sheraton Madison Hotel on John Nolen Drive, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Donors need to schedule appointments to give blood, by going online at redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-733-2767.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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