Town says farewell to platelet drive


(EOCI photo)

They say all good things must come to an end and this is especially true for a monthly occurrence in Fairbury.

The final American Red Cross local platelet drive is planned for Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 at the Fairbury American Legion on South Fourth Street.

The drive started in April of 2007 and the two-day drive began in 2008 as the only mobile two-day collection in the Heart of America region. The monthly event includes 15 donors on Friday and 10 on Saturday, with the majority giving at least two or three units.

“I got a call about three months ago from the Red Cross and this young man said they were stopping the mobiles,” explained Karen Harms, Fairbury platelet drive coordinator.

Donors will still be able to give platelets in places like Bloomington, Peoria and Quincy and the whole blood drives will continue. It is believed that the Fairbury drive has collected more than 5,000 units in nine years.

Harms will soon mark nine years as coordinator – a role she took on after retiring from teaching in 2009. The platelet donors are loyal and many of the kitchen workers have remained for the past several years.

“We have a lot of people that have donated and some donated for years and years,” Harms recalled. “It’s been fun and it’s been a lot of work.”

Helping others seems to be a big reason why so many local residents have stepped up to give platelets. Louis Retter enjoys the satisfaction knowing that his “small contribution” can help someone in need. Lynn Barnett feels the same way.

“I love giving platelets knowing that I have helped someone,” Barnett said.

Harms thanks the American Legion for the use of the facility each month and the many helpers. Donors and volunteers who have passed away include: Mark Aberle, Greg Ainsworth, Ruth Broquard, Mary Lou King, Herschel Leffingwell, Mary Ruth Ricketts, John Reis, Jane Steidinger and Richard Steidinger.

Harms is responsible for the decorations each month while Linda Zick submits the local newspaper articles. Members of the Steidinger family provide food dishes during the platelet drive while Harms and others bring in sweets.

An open house is planned during the first day of the drive on June 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the American Legion. Anyone who has ever donated or volunteered is encouraged to stop by to visit and enjoy a meal.

“We just thank Fairbury and the communities around us for being so faithful, loyal and caring,” Harms added.

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