Give the gift of life this Thanksgiving

November 11, 2013

ST. JAMES, Minn.  – As Thanksgiving approaches, many people reflect on their blessings and look for ways to give back to the community or someone less fortunate. Giving an hour of your time and donating blood could give a patient needing blood the most valuable gift of all – the gift of life.

This Thanksgiving, the American Red Cross is giving thanks to one dedicated volunteer and blood donor who has made it a lifelong goal to help others in need. On Thanksgiving Day, St. James resident, Helen Gratz, is reaching her 13-gallon milestone. Gratz began donating blood many years ago after she needed blood transfusions to help stop the bleeding during abdominal surgery. “I’ve been deferred twice for low hemoglobin and not weighing enough, but as long as I’m healthy enough to donate I will continue,” she says.

Attending the annual St. James Thanksgiving Day blood drive has become a family tradition. This year, Gratz hopes to be joined by her two children and other family members. “It’s very exciting to have three generations donating together. I have encouraged my family and friends to give back by donating blood because I know how important it is to have blood available when you need it,” said Gratz. “When you’ve nearly died and someone has generously given you back your life by donating blood, it makes a big impression on you.”

Gratz’s story highlights just how important each and every blood donation can be. All blood types are needed to ensure an adequate blood supply. Donors with type O negative, O positive, A negative or B negative blood are especially encouraged to give.

St. James Thanksgiving Day Blood Drive
Nov. 28 from 7:30 - 11:30 am. at the National Guard/Training/Community Center, 521 Armstrong, St. James

In the spirit of the season, the Red Cross and Paul’s Food Pride are thanking presenting donors with a complimentary pie.  As an added incentive during the Thanksgiving holiday, all presenting donors from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 will receive a commemorative Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

 “While the need for blood is ongoing, the supply isn’t – especially around the holidays,” said Geoff Kaufmann, CEO of the Red Cross North Central Blood Services Region. “Long holiday weekends pose an extra challenge when many donors are traveling to be with family and friends. Without the generosity of volunteer blood donors, we would not be able to ensure a stable blood supply for patients in need.”

How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.