During a busy afternoon spent collecting donations Tuesday in the First United Methodist Church fellowship hall, Community Blood Center staff took a few minutes to recognize a few folks who understand what giving is all about.
Recognized by the region's only blood bank were handful of donors who have each given at least 100 units of blood during their lives, or who are within a pint or two of doing so.
The clear champion was Sister Wilmarie Ehrhardt of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration convent in Clyde. Since 1971, Ehrhardt has donated 172 pints of blood in three different states. If you don't have a calculator handy, that's 21 and a half gallons.
Others local local members of the 100-unit club on hand Tuesday included Roger Anderson, Charles Wilmes and Tom Seipel.
"Giving blood is one of the very few things that I can do that I know will help others directly," Ehrhardt said. "But I think the real heroes are the patients who receive the transfusions, recover and go on to live their lives."
She added that the blood and blood products delivered to area hospitals by Community Blood Center literally "save a life now" — the organization's motto — and that serious shortages, which happen from time to time, represent more than just a glitch in the system.
"A shortage occurs whenever somebody needs blood and it's not there," Ehrhardt said.
Betty Tinker, who rounded up the group of 100-unit donors this week, serves as CBC's donor recruitment representative for the St. Joseph region, which includes about 20 mostly rural counties in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas.
She said Maryville and Nodaway County comprise the top donor community in her area.
Maryville was recently recognized for winning the center's Community Star Award, meaning that donors gave at least 400 units of blood during the past year. In actuality, the number was nearly twice that, 734 pints.
All told, Nodaway Countians gave 1,794 pints of blood in 2012, an effort that embraced blood drives in Burlington Junction, Ravenwood, Hopkins, Conception, Conception Junction, Barnard and Graham.
Northwest Missouri State University is counted as a separate entity, but its students have proven just as generous.
The Student Senate’s fall blood drive collected a record 268 units, which broke the university's previous record set in 2010.
Northwest's spring drive will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each of three days: Tuesday, Jan. 29, Thursday, Jan. 31, and Friday, Feb. 1 in the Tower View Room on the third floor of the J.W. Jones Student Union.
Other upcoming drives are set for 2-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan 24, at Northeast Nodaway School in Ravenwood and from 1-6 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the St. Maur building, Conception Abbey, room A109.
Page 2 of 2 - Despite the generosity of local donors however, Tinker said it's not enough. The influenza outbreak sweeping across Missouri has created an increased need for blood and blood products because many regular donors are ill.
The center tries to keep at least a three-day supply on hand, she said, but for some time has been getting by on a single day's reserve or even less.