“You’re helping to save lives, and what better way to honor health care workers than to help save lives?” said blood drive organizer Jennifer Johnson.
BUFFALO, Minn. — With warmer weather comes new life, and hope, that the cold of winter will soon come to an end.
In Buffalo, there is also a hope that when the snow melts away, it’ll take the pain along with it.
The pain is still fresh for many in the community after a tragic shooting at Allina Clinic back on February 9th.
Many like Jennifer Johnson are feeling helpless, standing by while some in her community are struggling to stay alive.
“After seeing everything happen, I just wanted to do something to help. I wanted to donate blood to help out if I could,” Johnson said.
But being that she’s never donated before, Johnson didn’t know where to start.
“I thought well, how can we take this horrible, bad situation and turn it around into something that helps people?” Johnson said.
One quick phone call to the Red Cross and her idea turned into action.
Johnson managed to get a quick blood drive together in honor of the health care workers in her community.
Red Cross workers say it normally takes a few months to pull a blood drive together, but they managed to get this one going in just two weeks.
Within two days of announcing the blood drive, Johnson says all 72 spots were already spoken for.
“We filled up so quickly. There was a lot of interest,” Johnson said.
Bill Tregaskis used to work at a Allina Clinic as a psychologist.
He says he retired about a year ago, but is still close with many of his former co-workers.
“You sort of feel helpless being on the outside. I might have been more involved had I still been there,” Tregaskis said.
He decided to donate blood so that he could be of some service to his community.
“I feel somewhat helpless, and in some ways wishing I could still be more helpful,” Tregaskis said.
But not everyone who wanted to donate got that chance.
Many had to resort to volunteering.
“We’re like, if we can’t donate, we’ll volunteer,” Ingrid Rogalski said.
Rogalski works at home, for Allina Clinic, but she says just four months ago she was working at the clinic and would have been close to where the shooting happened.
“You know that survivor’s guilt of, I should have been able to do something. What if I was there? There’s just so many ‘what if’s and I think so many of us are feeling that,” Rogalski said.
And she wasn’t the only person who felt that way.
Rogalski says 15 of the 20 volunteers who signed up to help with the blood drive work at Allina Clinic.
She says they all understand that the blood they’re collecting probably won’t be used to help their friends and co-workers who are still recovering from their injuries, but she says it feels good to know that they’re helping another community who may be going the same thing they are.
“If it wasn’t for blood, one of the gals wouldn’t have made it, if it wasn’t for the Red Cross. So, it just feels good to help someone out,” Rogalski said.
And this isn’t the only blood drive that is going on in Buffalo.
The community also held another blood drive on Wednesday and that one also filled up within a matter of days.
Community organizers also held a blood drive in Monticello on Friday that was also connected to their cause.
Johnson says the overwhelming interest they’ve received speaks to the character of the Buffalo community and the strength they find in each other.
“You’re helping to save lives, and what better way to honor health care workers than to help save lives?”