The American Red Cross is urging blood donors to give in the final weeks of summer to help overcome "a critical summer blood shortage."

The agency says many regular donors delay giving while they take vacation and participate in summer activities.

"The need for blood doesn't take a summer break though," the agency said in a press statement.

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days, and double red cells can be donated every 112 days. In appreciation for helping to save lives, those who come to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross now through Aug. 31 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card claim code.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in the Berkshires include: In Pittsfield, from 1 to 6 p.m. at St. Joseph's Parish, 414 North St., on Aug. 22; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave., on Aug. 29; in North Adams, from noon to 5 p.m., at Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, 771 South Church St., on Aug. 25; and in Lanesborough, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Berkshire Mall on Aug. 27.

Appointments to give blood 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.


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Pan-Mass proud

More than a dozen Berkshire County residents were among some 6,500 cyclists who participated in the Pan-Mass Challenge on Aug. 6-7, with the collective goal of raising $46 million to support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.

The ride is comprised of 12 routes of varying mileage designed to cater to all levels of cycling endurance and fundraising ability. There are six two-day routes that range from 132 to 190 miles and six one-day rides that range from 25 to 110 miles, collectively going through 46 Massachusetts cities and towns.

Starting lines were in Sturbridge, Wellesley and Bourne, and five finish lines included two sites in Provincetown and one each in Bourne, Wellesley and Foxborough. Some riders cycled even farther, by riding from various origins to the starting points.

Berkshire Pan-Mass participants included: John Chaves, of Dalton; Peter Whitehead and Tom Morrison, of Great Barrington; multiple riders from Lenox, including Ethan and Jamie Berg, Jonathan Molk, Kevin Mitts, Suky Werman and Suzanne Merritt; from Pittsfield, Craig Smith, Daniel Moon, Donald Carlson, Gregory Babich and Richard Simons; Richmond Evans from Richmond; James Murray of Stockbridge, and Sam Smith of Williamstown.

Some are cancer survivors, some are first-time riders, and all shared in the experience of a lifetime for a collective cause.

"The PMC brings people together from all walks of life, from all over the country and the world," said Billy Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC. "This is what makes ride weekend such a unique and momentous occasion."

Learn more at pmc.org.

Haiti help continues

Long after the 2010 earthquake, the Adams-based Haiti Plunge program continues to serve Haitian communities through volunteers and resources, as it has done for more than 30 years.

This month's team has worked on building raised garden beds for women in the villages of Desab and Brely. In these villages, at least half of the population's children are estimated to be not attending school because they cannot afford the tuition, uniform, school supplies, etc.

According to a Haiti Plunge newsletter, this year has been difficult because so many families lost their crops as a result of a six-month drought.

Program founder Eunice Tassone says an anonymous donor has offered the program a $10,000 fundraising match toward a new truck to transport program participants. The matching funds deadline is Nov. 1. Checks for this cause should be made out to Haiti Plunge/Challenge, P.O. Box 745, North Adams, MA 01247.

To learn more about the program or to join an upcoming mission, visit thehaitiplunge.org or call 413-346-3241.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.