The Passion for Pints blood drive, coordinated by Dairy MAX, a dairy council representing more than 900 dairy farmers in eight western states, recently held blood drives across Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado. All told 13,195 units were donated, enough to save 39,585 lives.
This year marks the seventh year of the event, started when a routine blood donor and dairy farmer realized that he was never offered milk after he gave blood. Since it's inception it's estimated that nearly 200,000 lives have been touched by the donor program. At each Passion for Pints event, blood donors receive a stress cow, an official Passion for Pints t-shirt and various dairy products to aid in recovery after donation. They also get the chance to meet and visit with a local dairy farm family.
“We wanted to not only position milk and dairy products as preferred beverages after giving blood, but have these events serve as opportunities for farmers to connect with others throughout their communities,” says John Cass, director of industry image and relations for Dairy MAX.
Tom Alger is a dairy farmer from Friona, Texas and was a longtime blood donor before he and his wife Sherri decided to participate in the Passion for Pints program. Tom donates every year and Sherri, since she's unable to donate, volunteers at their local event.
“It is a great way to make a connection with families in our community that don’t live on a farm,” Sherri says. “It gives you a chance to tell them about what you do for a living and help them understand milk doesn’t just come from the store. It comes from a family like ours.”
At each Passion for Pints event, banners and posters promoting the benefits of dairy adorned the sites. Media events took place at some centers, Cass said, with local dairy farmers available for interviews.
He added the timing couldn’t be better. Not only was June National Dairy Month, but also a time when blood banks need help the most.
“During the summertime, the number of blood drives is down because schools are out,” Cass said. “They don't have nearly as many as during the rest of the year. Plus, the demand for blood is up because of an increase in travelling and car accidents. It’s just the perfect time to give back while telling dairy farmers’ stories in the community.”