The Western Edge showcased its generosity with a significant turnout for a blood drive hosted at the Medora Community Center, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday. Donors came at their appointed time with walk-ins arriving throughout. All came with the same objective — saving lives.

“We have a center in Bismarck that is open everyday but most of our red-cell products come from these blood drives,” said Carson Jenson, a Vitalant phlebotomist. “Coming out west to Medora is our lifeline basically.”

Donors rallied in the gymnasium, each sporting masks and practicing social distancing in accordance with health regulations and Centers for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines. Like most events occuring during the ongoing pandemic, COVID-19 has negatively impacted blood stores across the United States — North Dakota especially.

“Colleges have had to cancel their blood drives because of their students leaving due to COVID-19,” said Sean Oppenheimer, coordinator of the drive “ The vision of Medora is to connect people to positive life changing experiences, and today that vision is becoming a reality.”

Oppenheimer has been donating blood since he was 17 years-old and was wrapping up his 26th time as The Press arrived.

“Today, we are coming together as a community to help people and and North Dakota’s hospitals and to really have had a personal stake in the healing process.” Oppenheimer said. “If you are able to give, you should. The needle is only a little pinch that is for saving someone's life, quite literally."

Jesen and the other phlebotomists expressed their gratitude for donors, whose absence would have been noticed.

”We appreciate all the donors that come out and do this, and we tip our hats to the coordinators that coordinate it,” Jenson said. “If we didn't have these blood drives, and the donors that support them, we definitely wouldn't be able to keep up with the high demand.”

Those interested in donating have nothing to fear, Jeson said.

“When you come in, trust us. A lot of us have been doing this for many years and have thousands of “sticks” under our belt,” he said. “I promise you'll be okay. On the off chance you get a little light headed, we'll take good care of you.”