Now is the time to make plans to donate to the Tyler Red Cross. And BONUS. They'll test for COVID-19 antibodies too.

The pandemic has changed everyone's calendar, including the schedule for the American Red Cross, and they're still catching up. Shutdowns and restrictions put a kink in their hose, and they could use help getting the flow of donations going again.

Thousands of people have kept up with regular blood donations, and they are true heroes right now, according to the Red Cross.

March is "Red Cross Month," and they're taking time to recognize more than 300,000 people who volunteer to donate blood, respond when disasters strike, and jump in to help, and never ask for any thanks in return.  The Red Cross is a group that always seems to be there, and that doesn't happen without a huge effort behind the scenes.

There are Red Cross locations in Tyler, Longview, and Marshall.  Click HERE to inquire about donating blood now.  And there are two upcoming blood drives to put on your calendar down the road:

Saturday, June 12, 2021
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Longview
1700 Blueridge Pkwy,
Longview, TX 75605

Friday, June 25, 2021
American Red Cross-Smith County Chapter
320 East Rieck Rd.
Tyler, TX 75703

The Red Cross serving East Texas is headquartered in Tyler and serves over 810,000 people in these counties:  Anderson, Cherokee, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Panola, Rusk, Smith, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood.

Besides donating blood, you can volunteer to become a blood donor ambassador and help welcome visitors and take their temperatures before they enter a Red Cross building or blood drive. The Red Cross says they also have a big need for transportation specialists to help deliver blood to local hospitals.

If you're fully recovered from COVID-19, you can give COVID-19 convalescent plasma, and that could help save the lives of patients battling the disease now.

The Red Cross is testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies, which could satisfy your curiosity if you've been thinking maybe you had it but never had an official diagnosis.  The results of the antibody test are available in your online Blood Donor account one or two weeks after your donation. Plus, the Red Cross will let you know your body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and hemoglobin levels.  What started out as a good deed turns into a bonus health screen for you too.

If you've been on the fence about donating blood, March is a great time to hop off and make the appointment.  The person in East Texas who will receive it is counting on it.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.