AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — In honor of National Blood Donation Week, community members are supporting local hospitals facing blood supply shortages.

Around 5,000,000 Americans need blood transfusions each year, and many hospitals in the area, including Children’s Hospital of Georgia, Doctors Hospital of Augusta, Piedmont Augusta and more have been experiencing shortages in platelets, plasma and blood.

The hospitals have been relying on donation centers like Shepeard Community Blood Center for these supplies.

“Odds are if you or someone you care about goes to the hospital and they need a platelet or blood transfusion, that’s going come from one of our amazing donors here at Shepeard,” said Ashley Whitaker, the Director of Community Resources.

Some donors at the center said they initially starting donating blood because they had personal ties to the cause, but that reason alone doesn’t seem to be enough.

“Imagine if you had a family member that needs blood,” said Wayne Miles, a regular donor at Shepeard. “Why not help out? It’s pretty painless, it’s pretty easy. I encourage everybody to go give a little bit of blood.”

The center hasn’t seen a significant increase in donors this week, but Whitaker said she expects donations to go up in the fall.

The center is also collecting and donating toys for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that when you are undergoing cancer treatment, children and adults alike, they need a lot of platelet transfusions and blood transfusions in order to go through their treatments and be strong enough to fight the disease,” Whitaker said.

Donors are encouraged to bring a new, unopened toy with them to their next blood donation appointment.