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By Mike DeNardo

VOORHEES, N.J. (CBS) — South Jersey businesses are launching an effort to help ease the region’s critical blood shortage.

Members of the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce gathered this morning to hear the Red Cross make a pitch for workplace blood drives to address a serious shortage.

“Sometimes small companies are intimidated about the process,” notes Chamber president Debra DiLorenzo, “and so we have people from the Red Cross here to talk about how easy it is to do a blood drive.”

Blood donations are always off in the summer, and Rosanne Marks of the Red Cross says a sagging economy sure isn’t helping.

“When companies are downsizing, or their focus is on just staying in business, maybe there’s not enough emphasis put on the blood program,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

And Robert Neri, assistant VP of lab operations at Virtua Health, says workplace blood drives are more effective than soliciting individual donors, in part because of the worktime flexibility.

“If you have to do it on your own, you’re taking your own time. It makes it a whole lot easier if you’re taking your boss’ time!” he says.

And Neri says the Penn-Jersey region has to import blood from other states because there aren’t enough donors here.

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