Big Lake Ambassador Autumn Clyde served coffee and goodies to Hugh Lampert after he gave blood. Lampert, 89, of Big Lake has donated two to three times per year for the past ten to fifteen years.

127 units donated at Red Cross blood drive

Contributing Writer
Aleah Stenberg


Big Lake residents gave 127 units of blood at the Red Cross blood drive at Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church Monday, from noon to 6 p.m. The drive was hosted by the Big Lake Knights of Columbus.
As donors arrived in the church basement, Big Lake Ambassadors Maddy Zinken and Emily Hansen greeted them and helped register returning and new blood donors. 
“It’s really fun talking to the people that come in. They have so much energy. No one has fainted yet, we haven’t seen the stretcher out at all,” said Zinken. 
“It’s been pretty busy today. There have been a lot of walk-ins,” remarked Hansen, who also helped at the last blood drive in September with Zinken. 
Joe Gergely, RN, is the team supervisor for the Northwest District of the Red Cross. For the past 20 years, he has supervised blood drives in Big Lake.
“Big Lake has always been a very good bloodmobile for us. The people here are such generous donors. Thank you,” said Gergely. 
The blood drive surpassed its goal of 100 units of blood, collecting 127 units. There were also 13 new donors, whereas in a typical blood drive there are only three to four first time donors.
Gift of Life
The blood collected Monday will be sent to 140 hospitals in the region. These hospitals need to be provided with 400 to 600 pints per day. The northwest region, which includes Big Lake, is the biggest supplier of blood to other parts of the country, donating 800 to 1,000 pints per day. 
Forty-three percent of all the blood supplied in the U.S. comes through the Red Cross, and there is always a constant need.
“Donating blood is one of the truly altruistic human behaviors,” said Gergely. “You have to do it out of the kindness of your heart.”
Make an Appointment
One of the most important things for people who want to donate is to make an appointment; making an appointment allows for more staff at the blood drive. The Red Cross only staffs the bloodmobiles for what they are scheduled. 
Norb Vossen, financial secretary of the Big Lake Knights of Columbus, coordinated Monday’s blood drive. He reported that pre-appointments were made for 130 of the 145 time slots available. Even with a 25 percent no-show margin accounted for, many walk-ins had to wait as those with appointments got first priority. 
Hannah Sipe and Big Lake Ambassador Autumn Clyde served juice, coffee and goodies to those who were finished donating. 
One pint of blood is equivalent to one-tenth of the blood in the average human body. It is important to rehydrate and replenish the salt and blood sugar the body lacks after a donation.
“I like helping serve refreshments because I don’t qualify to give blood, but I like to help however I can,” said Sipe.
Vossen, an eight-year veteran of coordinating blood drives, is already excited for the next blood drive in January. 
“I look forward to it. It turns into a big social event for us. It’s fun when we get to know the donors,” said Vossen.  
Upcoming Blood Drives
Upcoming blood drives will be Jan. 27, 2014, hosted by the Big Lake Lioness Club and May 5, 2014, sponsored by the Big Lake Knights of Columbus. Both will be held at Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church. Register with these local groups or at
On the day you donate, come healthy, well-hydrated and having eaten. Blood vessels are larger when hydrated making it easier to draw blood. 
For more information, go call the Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) or visit their website at 


MEMBERS OF THE BIG LAKE HIGH SCHOOL CHAMBER CHOIR performed for the school board at the beginning of their last meeting. The Chamber Choir members are selected for their skills from among their peers. They were directed by Mary Ebanks. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

DARLENE LANZ grew up just east of town and has lived in or around Big Lake all her life. She recalls what Christmas was like in Big Lake back then. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

SHERBURNE COUNTY ATTORNEY Kathleen Heaney, taking over as MCAA President. (Submitted photo.)

Cheryl Turck and Corey Mabis of the Sherburne County Probation Dept. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

SANTA AND HIS HELPERS prepared to give out toys to 111 families at the Food Shelf Monday. The toys were all donated by one local merchant. (Photo by Ken Francis.)