Healing Our Spirits by Lifting Others

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Hi, I'm Leta, a 55 year old who has always tried to volunteer at some level. When I was younger & more fit, I volunteered as a staff member for my church's youth camps. I also started giving blood regularly at my local Red Cross collection center. Then, after a brief marriage and divorce, I plunged into volunteerism again to renew my faith and give myself a purpose in life. Believe me, volunteering does wonders for a wounded soul because I received far more than I gave.

This particular project was volunteering as a board member and coach, of a local sports team for disabled athletes. These adults, ages 20-60, showed me how a person can attain greatness throught adaptation, hard work, and an enormously generous spirit.

After a ten year absence from donating blood, I attempted but was told due to a medical situation would not be able to donate, possibly EVER. At about the same time, most of our department (Michigan Department of Treasury) moved to a new location nine miles from its prior residence, and away from a regularly scheduled blood drive 1/2 block away. The coordinator of that blood drive knew me and asked if I would be willing to start a new blood drive at our new building which would eventually house 1,100 employees. I accepted the challenge and now 7 years later we successfully collect about 45-50 units every 8 weeks.

One of my greatest joys is composing e-mails about my blood drives which will tug on that "one" heartstring to motivate someone to give blood. I like the recent mantra ..."one donor, one hour, three lives" (because each unit of blood can be split into 3 different components to help 3 different people).

Even if you can't give blood, we need people to help load & unload the truck at the blood drive site, and check in the donors & work at the canteen, where the donors are rejuvenated with snacks & juice/water after donating. In my case, I have volunteers who put up the posters and prepare the room/put the room back together.

All you have to do is sign up at your local Red Cross center to work at community drives being held at churches, schools, community centers, municipal buildings, etc. You may work often or infrequently, whatever time you can spend helping us help others to Give the Gift of Life. I implore everyone to look around their community--there are so many opportunities!

I am so glad the President recognizes the need for volunteerism to spur the recovery of our country--it is that sense of community, and service that create a more caring and sustainable environment for us all.

For more information about how to donate blood and volunteer with Red Cross blood drives, visit: www.givelife.org

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