The Tri-Counties Blood Bank is teaming up with See’s Candies, Inc. to reward local residents who donate blood with a sweet treat in honor of Valentine’s Day.

Anyone who gives blood to the blood bank before Feb. 14 will receive a four-ounce box of assorted chocolates from See’s Candies, said Tri-Counties Blood Bank Community Relations Director Scott Edward. Representatives from the blood bank will be collecting blood donations between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday in the Graduate Student Lounge in the UCen. Edward said the free candy promotion is intended to help the blood bank bring in more donors, since there is typically a shortage of volunteers willing to donate blood during the winter.

“We need to get an average of 270 pints of blood per day to keep a normal supply,” Edward said. “The Thanksgiving and holiday period always sees a drop off in the blood inventory. This drive is an attempt to bring the supply back to normal levels.”

Edward said the blood drive, which began Jan. 15, has been a success so far. He said there have been 8 to 10 percent more donations this January than there were last year.

“We designed the drive to blend in with existing blood drives that are chaired by volunteers at businesses and schools, as well as mobile blood donation centers,” Edward said. “We were extremely happy with the level of excitement generated, especially the volunteer chairpersons.”

Mary Ann Bittle, the Tri-Counties Blood Bank Community Relations for Santa Barbara, said she expects a large number of people to donate blood during the free candy promotion. Bittle said she recommends that students make an appointment with the blood bank in advance if they want to donate blood this Friday at the Graduate Student Lounge.

“If everyone turns up on Friday, things could get a little crowded,” Bittle said

Edward said this is the first time that the blood bank and See’s Candies have coordinated a blood drive together. He said he thinks the See’s Candies promotion is a good idea because it gives organizers a chance to incorporate something fun and enjoyable into the blood drive campaign.

“Often our campaigns and drives are very somber or serious, especially when we are dealing with shortages in the blood supply,” Edward said. “This was a chance to do something fun to encourage people to donate blood.”

Edward said the blood bank is responsible for maintaining the blood supply for the entire tri-counties area, which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties. The blood bank provides blood for surgery and emergencies, as well as blood for individual patients such as cancer patients and hemophiliacs.

Edward said he hopes the donors who are attracted by the free candy campaign will continue to give blood after the blood drive is over.

“Continuous donation is the goal,” he said.