During the Vietnam War, Steve Sanford was seriously injured. The Red Cross helped him communicate what was happening to his family back home. He later was decorated with the Purple Heart for being wounded during military service.
This early connection with the Red Cross, and its work supporting American soldiers, helped Steve decide that he wanted to pay back a decades-old good deed. So after he retired from a career in food and mail services, Steve became a Red Cross volunteer.
“I’ve gotten to know the donors and staff very well, and it’s my honor to ensure donors have the best experience possible when they come to give,” says Steve. “I love meeting new people, and I’ve made a lot of great friendships by volunteering with the Red Cross!”
Since 2011, Steve has served as a blood donor ambassador at blood drives in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. Blood donor ambassadors have an important role welcoming and guiding blood donors during drives, ensuring donor wellness after blood donation, and providing friendly, courteous and knowledgeable assistance to blood donors, staff, community partners and visitors.
Sanford has served as a donor ambassador at numerous blood donation centers and area blood drives including the Minnesota State Fair, 12 Hours of Giving, KARE 11 and many others. He has logged nearly 3,000 volunteer hours to date! Currently, he greets and assists donors at the North Suburban Blood Donation Center in Arden Hills twice a week, and always with a big, cheery smile on his face.
“We’re incredibly fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like Steve who are so generous with their time,” says Arika Quick, manager of volunteer resources for Red Cross blood services in Minnesota. “Steve is a role model for new volunteers and has been instrumental in helping train and mentor new volunteers. He’s a great example of someone who truly wants to make a difference by supporting the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross.”
Sanford is also a dedicated blood donor, having reached 22 gallons. His first blood donation was May 6, 1966, at St. Paul College. Since that time he has donated whole blood, double red cells, platelets and white cells as often as possible. Health issues have prevented him from donating since last summer, but he hopes that in the near future he’ll donate again.
“When you volunteer with the Red Cross you become part of a group of people who truly make a difference in the lives of people in serious medical need,” Steve says. “You just don’t know when you or a loved one will be the one in need.”
Everyday the Red Cross relies on the dedicated efforts of volunteers like Steve to collect the blood products needed to treat patients across the country. You, too, can help others in a way that makes a real difference in people’s lives. Become a Red Cross blood donor ambassador and #BeAHero during Red Cross Month and for months to come. For more information, contact (651) 291-3360 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Sue Thesenga, Communications Manager for American Red Cross North Central Blood Services