BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and the American Red Cross is teaming up with other non-profits to help others understand the disease and how to assist others affected by it.

This September and October, the Red Cross is teaming up with community organizations like the National Pan-Hellenic Council and others to host blood drives and inspire donors who are Black to give blood to support people living with sickle cell.

Opportunities to donate blood are available throughout September in Calhoun, Clay, Etowah, Jefferson, Saint Clair, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Walker County. Donors are encouraged to make an appointment today by visiting the Red Cross website, downloading the Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

The NAACP Alabama State Conference will host also a Joined by Blood drive on Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Westin Hotel in Birmingham.

The Red Cross has launched Sickle Cell Initiative in 2021 to help improve the health outcomes of those with the disease through impactful partnerships with Black community-based organizations. Joined by Blood is a fall-focused component of the Sickle Cell Initiative.

In the first year of the initiative, the number of first-time African American blood donors who gave with the Red Cross increased by 60%. One in three African American blood donors is a match for people with sickle cell disease.