By Julie Tesch
I grew up in a small farming community that took community pride for the greater good seriously. Like many towns, then and now, we would hold a blood drive three or four times a year at a church or the community center. When I was a child, I would sometimes help out by making sure there was plenty of juice and cookies for the donors. (In actuality, I probably ate just as many cookies as the donors.) I remember being back in the church kitchen and watching this whole ordeal unfold. These adults were willing to be poked and prodded with needles, which I thought was completely insane, even if your reward was cookies. Every now and then someone would faint, and that was not a pleasant experience to witness. On top of that, needles scared me. I’m still not really fond of them.
During this time of uncertainty with COVID-19, it is hard to know how one can best help. If you are like me, then you are a helper and you want to be able to do anything that you can to make the situation better for others. The problem right now is that we have to stay socially distant so the ‘doing’ part of helping has changed. It’s not like preparing for a flood where you make sandbags to ward off the water. With that, you can see your tangible work when you ward off the flood waters, and you have a sense of accomplishment. This is a different crisis, one that’s nearly invisible.
Staying at home seems like a relatively easy way to help stop the spread of the virus. On the surface it doesn’t sound that difficult. We get to stay home, catch up on projects, watch TV and generally watch the world go by. It can’t be that difficult, right? Well, as we are seeing and experiencing, staying at home is a lot more difficult than we ever imagined. I often wonder if there is more that I could be doing to help the greater good than staying at home.
Fortunately, there is another way of immediately helping the greater good during this pandemic. You can give blood. Now, I know that this might be a big ask for someone who hates needles, like myself, but I learned that giving blood really is easy and relatively quick.
I live in southern Minnesota and decided to go to the Mayo blood bank in Rochester. My mom, who is an old pro at blood donation, and I made an appointment ahead of time to guarantee that we would be able to donate, since driving all that way, then not being able to donate would have been disappointing.
I’m happy to report that the process of giving blood really is quite easy. If you are the phlebotomist having to find the vein, then it probably isn’t that easy, but I got to sit back and relax as much as I could.
Honestly, as long as I didn’t look at my arm during the process, I was just fine. I talked to the phlebotomist and watched HGTV for a few minutes while my blood was collected. Again, it was easy and relatively painless. A bonus was talking to other people donating blood as well. Being cooped up in my house for a few weeks made me crave some in-person conversation.
After the process was complete, it was time for the best part of the day: cookies. The mere fact that I was being encouraged to eat cookies is amazing in my mind. Here I am having donated blood, and you are telling me that I am supposed to eat cookies? Yes, ma’am.
Then, I will do the best I can at eating cookies and drinking juice. It’s the least I can do.
I hope that you will take the time to donate blood in your community. The American Red Cross has blood mobiles across the country conducting blood drives. You can check to see if one is near your area here: www.redcrossblood.org
Or, if you are in southern Minnesota, you can go to the Mayo Blood Bank: https://www.mayoclinic.org/blood-donor-program/minnesota
Just make sure that you make an appointment ahead of time. They can only handle so many people at a time, so having an appointment assures that they will have a space allocated for you.
I hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to help the greater good during this time of need. Besides, who doesn’t like to be rewarded with cookies?