The American Red Cross urges blood donors to give this winter to help overcome a critical winter blood shortage.

"More than 550 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather in January, causing more than 16,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected through last week," the Red Cross said in a press release Tuesday, Jan. 23. "In Connecticut, 19 blood drives have been forced to cancel due to winter weather this month, causing 530 donations to go uncollected. In addition, bitter cold and widespread flu have contributed to very low turnout at many blood drives."

There will be an opportunity for Ridgefield residents to give blood at the Parks and Recreation Center Thursday, Feb. 15, from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. The rec center is located at 195 Danbury Rd.

Appointments can be scheduled by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

To help reduce wait times, donors are encouraged to make appointments and complete the RapidPass online health history questionnaire at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.