GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health is reaching out to the Black community by hosting a blood drive this week. Medical experts say it’s important now more than ever to diversify the blood supply.

Officials with Spectrum Health say they understand there is a distrust between medical staff and the Black community, which is why they want to work on bridging that gap.

The Martin Luther King Commemoration Week Blood Drive will take place on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Baxter Community Center in Grand Rapids from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Officials say the need for a diverse blood supply is important because African Americans sometimes have different qualities in their blood to match with.

During a time when medical officials are also giving out the COVID-19 vaccine, they want to ensure people that what they do is safe.

“This is another way we can address health inequities. We know that we are needing a great diversification of our blood supply. We know that there is that fear and mistrust, but this is also a time to bring blood donations into the community,” said Dr. Lisa Lowery, the section chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

You can register in advance for the Martin Luther King Commemoration Week Blood Drive online.