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State's biggest-ever blood drive coming to Woodbury area

Holiday gifts don’t necessarily come wrapped with a bow.

That’s the message American Red Cross officials are hoping to spread with a first-ever event coming this month to the Woodbury area.

On Dec. 23, the Red Cross’ North Central Blood Services Region will hold its largest donation drive to date in Minnesota. The event, dubbed the “Twelve Hours of Giving Holiday Blood Drive,” runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Prom Center in Oakdale, located just north of Woodbury.

Sue Thesenga, a community program manager for the American Red Cross, said she hopes people see the event as an opportunity to give the lifesaving gift of blood.

“People in the hospital don’t get a holiday,” she said.

Thesenga said that while blood reserves are currently stable, it never lasts during the holidays because people tend to put donation on the back burner in lieu of other holiday-related priorities.

That’s why the Red Cross is hoping to bring the holidays to donors at the event. Activities at the event will include live music, commemorative T-shirts and gift bags for donors and holiday food.

Got gifts that will need wrapping? Not to worry, Thesenga said. Red Cross is looking to accommodate shoppers on the go by providing free gift-wrapping services for donors as “an extra encouragement to come,” she said.

“It’s a big event,” Thesenga said.

The organization’s goal is to collect 500 units during the 12-hour period. Normal drives last about four hours and generate about 25 donors per hour. Thesenga said the goal is to be moving 60 donors per hour through the Prom Center on Dec. 23.

The event, which will enlist the help of more than 100 volunteers, will include an appearance by Kate Ross, a St. Paul woman who received lifesaving blood in 2009 after sustaining a major injury to her leg in an auto crash.

“You never know when you’re going to be the one who needs blood,” Thesenga said.

The hope, Thesenga said, is that donors keep people like Ross in mind “so they can spend another holiday with their family.”

 All blood types are needed, with a special emphasis on donors with O negative, A negative and B negative types. Type O negative is the universal donor type.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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