Karen and Jerry Wahl, a retired Scandia couple, have crisscrossed Minnesota for two years delivering blood to hospitals and clinics as Red Cross volunteers.
They signed up after seeing the devastation and human suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and trained for several emergency-response positions before finding their niche as delivery drivers.
Now the Red Cross' Minnesota Region is seeking more volunteer drivers like the Wahls who are willing to slide behind the wheel and deliver lifesaving blood to hospitals and clinics across Minnesota.
"Minnesota is beautiful," Jerry Wahl said. "You get a cup of coffee. You get to travel and you get to do a good thing. If you can drive your grandkids to soccer or hockey, you can deliver blood."
The Minnesota Region, which also serves western Wisconsin, is looking for 52 new drivers to use Red Cross vehicles to pick up products from blood drives and transport them to the testing lab, as well as deliver final blood products to local hospitals.
The American Red Cross wants to expand its volunteer driver pool so it can pour more money into its mission, said spokeswoman Carrie Carlson-Guest.
The Red Cross, well known for its blood drives, draws 2.5 million donors from across the United States each year who roll up their sleeves and give a little of themselves to save another. The charity provides nearly half the nation's blood supply as well as disaster relief aid.
About 141,000 donors in the region gave 240,000 units of blood last year.
"Our volunteer drivers complement and support our staff, reduce the cost of hiring additional couriers and taxis — and really enjoy the role they play in saving lives," said Arika Quick, a Red Cross volunteer services officer.
Volunteers need a valid driver's license with at least three years of driving experience and a safe driving record. They also must be able to lift boxes weighing up to 45 pounds for hospital deliveries.
"For those who can't give blood for whatever reason, this is a great way to give," Carlson-Guest said.
Volunteers may contact Chris Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-791-2884.