By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Since World War II, the American Red Cross has been helping to save lives by collecting and donating blood.
Throughout the year, there are several opportunities for Dassel and Cokato area residents to give back by giving blood.
The bloodmobile is in Dassel three times a year May, August, and December. The next bloodmobile is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 13.
Willing donors can either schedule an appointment or walk in during the blood drive, which takes place from 1 to 7 p.m. at Dassel Covenant Church.
Meribeth Reynolds and Mary Ellen Nelson of Dassel coordinate the effort, along with several callers who help to schedule appointments for repeat donors prior to the date of the event.
Sometimes, the process of giving blood can take longer than expected, especially for those without appointments, according to Reynolds.
She asks donors to be patient and allow enough time.
On average, the Dassel bloodmobile collects about 80 pints of blood at each draw.
“We would sure like to see more people willing to give,” Nelson said, who has been involved for about eight years.
“I just think it’s such a worthy cause and there is such a need for blood,” she added.
Reynolds has been involved for about 13 years. Her godmother, Grace Swanson asked her if she would be interested in coordinating the bloodmobile.
Thinking this would be a great way to serve her community, Reynolds took on the responsibility of organizing the drives.
“It’s fun to see the different people coming in,” Reynolds said.
“I think everyone should help out with some cause or another. It’s a good thing,” she added.
Jeanette Tomlinson has been an active volunteer with the Dassel bloodmobile for about 35 years, with about 15 of those years serving as coordinator alongside Swanson.
With that kind of dedication, it’s not much of surprise when Tomlinson was asked why she continues. She said, “I felt it was a very worthy cause and I like to volunteer.”
Now, Tomlinson works in the canteen, which is also an important part in the blood drive since donors are recommended to rehydrate and avoid strenuous activity following the donation process.
Dassel’s canteen provides lemonade, coffee, water, cinnamon bread, and cheese.
The Dassel churches also take turns making the staff a light supper.
The Cokato bloodmobile also takes place three times a year, with drives in February, June, and October.
The next blood drive is Monday, Oct. 25 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Cokato, and is dedicated for donors with Type O blood type. It’s the universal donor.
On the committee are Gladys Peterson, Margaret Salo, and Ruth Schmieg.
Peterson began helping in 1996; Salo in 2000; and Schmieg in 2006.
When Salo joined the team, she was recovering from cancer and was unable to contribute by donating blood.
Salo decided instead she would help out by being on the committee.
“[Giving blood] benefits so many people it saves a life,” she said.
On average, the Cokato bloodmobile collects about 120 pints of blood.
“We have really dedicated donors,” said Salo.
Schmieg started by first helping to call donors to set up appointments.
Callers are really important to the drive, Salo commented. Typically, there are 10 to 15 callers.
Mary Cole of the American Legion Auxiliary-Cokato serves up coffee, cinnamon bread, cheese, and other refreshments to the donors.
The committee also appreciates the efforts of the Cokato Lions Club, which helps unload and set up for the bloodmobile, along with the Village Ranch boys who help with take-down and loading at the end of the day.