Woodbury resident named top youth volunteer for Red CrossWoodbury resident Ellie Lundblad received the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region’s 2012 Youth Volunteer Leadership Award.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Many college students spend their summer vacations sleeping in and hanging out at the beach.
Not Woodbury resident Ellie Lundblad. She spends her summers giving back as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.
“I don’t really keep track of my hours,” said Lundblad, who will be a junior this fall at the University of Minnesota, “I just do it for the goodness.”
Lundblad recently received the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region’s 2012 Youth Volunteer Leadership Award.
“I wasn’t expecting an award or anything,” she said. “So I was really excited and surprised, and honored to be selected.”
Lundblad has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross with its blood bank and its Safety Mobile for the past two years.
“Ms. Lundblad has traveled to schools, events and community centers throughout the Twin Cities metro helping school-aged children learn important safety and awareness lessons,” said Phil Hansen, CEO of the American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region, in a press release.
Lundblad said she first decided to volunteer with the American Red Cross when she was just entering college at Winona State University.
“I wanted to do something kind of meaningful during college,” she said. “I wanted to get involved with something.”
Lundblad attended an informational meeting for American Red Cross volunteers and was instantly drawn to it.
“I’ve always been interested in medical stuff,” she said. “I wanted to do something that would be connected to something that I would maybe want as a career.”
She started out volunteering as a greeter at the American Red Cross blood bank.
As a greeter at the blood bank, Lundblad helps check-in people who are there to donate blood, gives them information, gives them snacks and beverages after their donation, answers any questions and hands out stickers.
After having volunteered with the blood bank for a while, Lundblad said she decided to add another volunteer opportunity – the Safety Mobile.
“I was particularly excited about the Safety Mobile because I thought the idea of dressing up in a mascot suit would be super fun,” she said.
The Safety Mobile is a children’s program that travels around the Twin Cities to day care centers, parades, summer camps and other events teaching children various safety lessons.
During the Safety Mobile visits, one volunteer reads a story about specific safety concerns – such as fire safety, aquatic safety, bike safety, winter safety and summer storm safety – while Lundblad, dressed up as the “B Safe Bear” acts out the story.
“I’ll be there in the bear suit to entertain the kids,” she said.
Additionally, Lundblad, as the “B Safe Bear,” is on hand after the lesson for “hugs and high fives.”
Lundblad said she enjoys the Safety Mobile because she thinks it is important to teach children about safety early.
“It’s important to start young with kids teaching them about safety issues because then it’s embedded in them from an early age – it’s kind of common sense to them after that,” she said. “The mascot costume helps to entertain the kids while they learn about safety.”
Lundblad said she tries to volunteer at the blood bank, and with the Safety Mobile, twice per month.
“In the summer is more, obviously,” she said.
Benefits for everyone
Lundblad said she enjoys volunteering with the American Red Cross because of the people she gets to work with.
“The people I work with are really great and they’re really dedicated to educating kids about safety,” she said. “They’re all really active and passionate.”
Lundblad said the most rewarding part of volunteering with the American Red Cross is seeing the reactions of the people she comes in contact with.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces is a big part of it,” she said.
Lundblad said she hopes to continue volunteering with the American Red Cross for years to come. In fact, she said she might look at other volunteer opportunities such as disaster relief.
“I think that would be really cool to get into,” she said. “But that can be kind of demanding.
“I would like to get into that someday though.”
Volunteering with the American Red Cross has given Lundblad some good hands on experience since she hopes to one day go into the medical field
Lundblad is also a volunteer emergency medical technician.
“It really helped that I was interested in the medical aspect of it so it was really interesting to me at the same time,” she said. “It provided some good for me as well as for them.”