As the Gulf Coast deals with the impact of Hurricane Ivan, American Red Cross officials in Iowa are putting out an urgent call for blood donations.With many blood centers in Alabama evacuated and unable to distribute blood, officials with the Badger-Hawkeye Blood Center are lending a helping hand. The center, which serves northeast Iowa, is one of many Red Cross facilities in the upper midwest to initiate an emergency appeal for donations. Iowans are being asked to donate blood and platelets in the next few days. The emergency appeal will assist Red Cross officials in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle until blood collection efforts in that region are fully operational again. To make an appointment or to get information on area blood drives, the Red Cross’ toll-free Iowa number is 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.