HUBBARD LAKE Dozens of people braved lake-effect snow Friday to donate blood at Hope Lutheran Church.
Coordinator Diane Golder said the church has been running the drive for four years. Drives also are held at nearby Ossineke United Methodist and St. Matthews Lutheran in Herron, so people in the area can donate once every 56 days if they want. That is the minimum amount of time allowed between donations.
Seven phlebotomy professionals from the Petoskey Red Cross office spent over an hour setting up more than 800 pounds of equipment, including computers, tables and private offices.
They work five days a week, covering northern Michigan and a portion of the Upper Peninsula, Dawn Gutierrez, who manages the team, said. Their region also includes Mackinac, Drummond and Beaver islands.
"Whenever we come to the east side of the state there's always a blizzard," she said Friday.
The crew is productive. From July to December 2012, they worked with 7,132 donors, collecting 891.5 gallons.
The process Friday took about an hour. New participants read a booklet of information, answered a detailed health questionnaire and had their blood typed. Those who passed the screening process then rested on padded tables as they gave blood. Once done, a volunteer would escort them to a seating area were they were served juice and homemade cookies.
Besides making blood available to hospitals, the donation program can be life-saving in other ways, Gutierrez said. Last week, a health screening check revealed a volunteer coordinator, who was planning to donate, had an irregular pulse. He was told about the situation, which can cause a stroke or heart attack, and immediately made an appointment with his doctor.
"Even some of our own staff have received blood," Gutierrez said. "We know we're helping out in a very unique way."
Donor Kraig Bank, a retired GM employee, donated Friday, saying he just wanted to help the community and people who need blood.
Mary Lou Schalkofske of Hubbard Lake has been giving blood for 15 to 20 years, and watches for notices so she can donate every 56 days.
"I just do it, that's all," she said.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693.