The American Red Cross is urging people of all races and ethnicities to give blood or platelets to help increase the diversity of the blood supply.

The vast majority of blood types fall into one of the major blood groups. However, for patients with rare blood types or those who receive regular blood transfusions, blood must be matched closely -- beyond the primary A, B, O and AB blood types -- to reduce the risk of developing complications from transfusion therapy. The best match may be someone of the same racial or ethnic group.

Eight-year-old AJ Torres requires blood transfusions to treat complications from sickle cell disease, the most common genetic disease in the U.S. The disease is most common among people of African descent or Latino descent, like AJ, and can sometimes cause small blood vessels to become blocked. Diverse donors are important to ensuring AJ has the blood products he needs to regain his health.

Appointments can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

As a thank you, those who come to give blood or platelets during the month of October will automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards redeemable at hundreds of merchants, courtesy of Tango Card. Terms apply. See rcblood.org/game.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities

  • Pillager: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, Pillager High School, 323 E. Second St. S.

  • Crosby: Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, Crosby Ironton High School, 711 Poplar St.

  • Aitkin: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3; and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 4; Riverwood Healthcare Center, 200 Bunker Hill Drive.

  • Baxter: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 4, Northland Arboretum, 14250 Conservation Drive; and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 4, Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union, 13283 Isle Drive.

  • Wadena: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 9, Karvonen Funeral Home, 419 Second St. NE.

  • Brainerd: Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 11, Roosevelt Township Hall, 22613 County Highway 2.

  • Nisswa: Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 15, Gull Lake Center, 23521 Nokomis Ave.