With spring break on the horizon, Canadian Blood Services is urging Winnipeggers to donate blood.

"Right now, we are calling on folks to book an appointment in March. We have over 1000 appointments available at 777 William Avenue," said Brett Lawrence, community development manager with Canadian Blood Services in Winnipeg. "We're really encouraging people who are off during spring break to make some time between their plans to donate blood. It only takes about an hour of your time."

For many people, the thought of giving blood can be intimidating or scary, but Lawrence says it is quick and easy. 

"When you come to 777 William Avenue, there is a free parking lot, so that's taken care of. From the time you walk in until the time you walk out, it's only going to be about an hour of your time. During that time, you'll get food when you walk in and food when you walk out."

The scary part, the needle, he says, only takes about 10-15 minutes, and in some cases even less time.  

"Personally, when I donate, it takes about 7-8 minutes to fill my bag. During that time, I'm chatting with staff members. Maybe I'm going over my phone or reading a book. I'm chatting with others donating, said Brett. "It's really a fun process, and you're helping save a life."

Lawrence says they are not picky when it comes to blood type. 

 "If you have blood, we'll take it as long as you're eligible," said Brett. "We're really calling people who have O negative to donate. If you know you're an O-negative blood type, that means you're the universal donor."  

In the case of an emergency, Brett says someone is given O-negative blood.

"We don't take time to test their blood because, in a life-saving emergency, time is of the essence, so we just give them O negative, knowing that anyone can receive it," Brett explained. "That being said, any blood type is needed. It can all be used in surgery formats or whatever situation."

When it comes to donating blood, men can donate every 56 days, and women can give blood every 84 days. 

"For people who have never done it before, try dedicating yourself to doing it twice a year, or even once a year, because that's more than most people are donating blood."

The blood donated at 777 William Avenue stays in Manitoba for the most part, but because they are part of a national organization, the blood can also be shipped to other hospitals across Canada if there is a need. 

"You're saving a life, and it only takes an hour," said Brett.  

To set up an appointment to donate blood, call 1-888-2-DONATE or book an appointment online