It’s fair to say the efforts of Jean Manchowski and her little group of volunteers are no drop in the bucket. They may be small in number, but they’re mighty and together they support 24 clinics a year that collect more than 2,200 units.

For more than 30 years the dedicated community members have been encouraging residents in Camrose, Alberta to give the gift of blood and help save a life. It all began when Jean first volunteered with the local Kinettes at a blood donor clinic in town. Since then, there have been many changes but Jean’s involvement has remained constant. And the importance of it has hit close to home, as it was the generosity of blood donors that helped her late husband through several heart surgeries.

“It’s also nice to see all the people you have known over the years,” says Jean. “It keeps you connected to the community.”

Initially a party of one, her group now includes upwards of 20 people, including three of the original members. There are friends of friends of friends, all dedicated to ensuring there is always blood for those in need. The desire to help their community has allowed these dedicated volunteers to create a community of their own. They are mostly retired women who like to have fun and give back, all in the hopes of making the donation a good experience for the donor.

Jean regularly calls upon them to fill shifts at the Camrose clinic. One of the members is Gerri Szott who remembers how blood donation helped her child when she was in need. When she retired, helping with blood donation became her first priority. Although no longer working, she’s been busy ever since.

“I love to meet great people, some you know, and some you don’t know,” she says. “I like to keep them happy by talking and listening to their stories and encouraging them.”

Gerri’s particularly keen on chatting up young donors, as they’re often out for the first time.

“If you encourage them when you get them started, they tell their friends and come back,” she says.

These wonderful volunteers plan to continue as long as there is a need and they are able. For that, the people of Camrose and Canadians in need of blood are truly grateful.