The holiday season got under way last week with one red-letter day.

Not to mention two shopping frenzies — Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

But there are other upcoming functions that, though not printed in red on calendars or even seasonal, are still significant.

Last week, the American Red Cross promoted a host of dates and different technologies to give the most precious gift of all — life. That is donating blood in the never-ending need to help save lives.

The online technologies allow for completing pre-donation paperwork beforehand and the ability to schedule an appointment online.

Another is the Red Cross’ Blood Donor App, which allow donors to stay informed of blood drives, receive appointment reminders, etc.

The Red Cross also announced no less than nine blood donation opportunities between now and Dec. 15 in Monongalia and Preston counties.

We want to remind our readers that hospital patients depend on transfusions. On average, it takes about an hour to give blood or platelets, but if you go online — as noted above — to redcrossblood.org, it can save you time.

Though most of us were blessed to spend time with family in good health during the past week, others were not so fortunate.

Thousands of patients spent Thanksgiving in a hospital room, while others are admitted daily.

Few may realize the joy that donors bring by helping ensure patients receive the care they need.

But ask any health care worker or any patient’s family, and they’ll tell you how essential blood donations are to their patients’ well-being. A single donation of one pint of blood can reportedly save three lives.

It’s estimated nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10 percent of that actually does yearly.

Many are busier than usual traveling, preparing for visitors or shopping during the holidays.

Yet, in a real sense, the holidays afford many of us a break of sorts. Unless you’re a patient in a hospital who doesn’t really get a holiday break.

Their need for lifesaving transfusions and that of hospitals to ensure a reliable supply is a constant. Donors with all blood types are needed immediately to help patients.

We urge eligible donors to make an appointment to give blood or platelets to help meet those needs for blood this winter.

Think of it as the gift that keeps giving life and hope to so many in need.