sanford width=

Northwest Salmon



Hoffman has organized blood drives for decades

by Amanda Fanger

For many, the name Pat Hoffman is synonymous with fall blood drives.

It’s really no wonder either since Hoffman has been organizing the blood drives in Webster for over 25 years.

“It’s time consuming but a worthwhile project,” she said. “I would hate to see it go by the wayside.”

Hoffman is a transplant to the Webster community from North Dakota and says there is a lot more that goes into organizing a blood drive than one would think.

Lining up other volunteers is one of the biggest tasks, she says.

People are needed as callers (Hoffman tries to get at least four individuals for setting up donor appointments), someone to register people the day of the drive as they come in, folks as kitchen servers and volunteers to make snacks for the donors before the drive. Others still are needed to put up posters and make reminder calls the day before and even during the drive.

Hoffman coordinates those volunteers and when she can’t get anyone to fill a slot, she steps up herself.

But that doesn’t happen often.

“People are very good about volunteering and donating (their time and blood),” Hoffman said. “It’s a volunteer thing and people are good about it.” 

Besides lining up people, Hoffman is also responsible for pinning down the event venue.

Typically, the event is held at Christ the King Parish Hall, but occasionally – due to overscheduling of that facility – the blood drive is held in the community room of the Day County Courthouse.

Hoffman began organizing blood drives first as president of the Legion Auxiliary and a few years later as the regent of Catholic Daughters.

“They were needing more blood drives in the area at the time,” she explained. The Catholic Daughters’ blood drive is held each October.

They can have up to 75 appointment slots filled, but Hoffman says it’s almost a guarantee there will be some cancellations.

Therefore, they encourage walk-ins on the day of the blood drive.

“We do try to get new people, especially people of O-negative and O-positive blood types,” she said. Those are the universal blood types. “Webster has a strong history of meeting those needs. There is a strong percentage of O-positive and O-negative donors here. There are some very loyal people in the Webster area. I can’t say enough about the people around here.”

Over the years, the interview process has changed some.

“There’s always change,” Hoffman said. A new feature today is donors are allowed to do an interview online the day of the blood drive. Then they print off a sheet from the website and present it when they get there. “It makes things go faster.”

Other things that have changed include the qualifications for donating. One that sticks out for Hoffman involves tattoos and body piercings. It used to be that people had to wait a year to donate after getting a piercing or a tattoo, but now – if those are done at a certified location – there is no wait time.

It’s interesting to note that although Hoffman has been organizing blood drives in Webster for over a quarter century, it wasn’t until about 16 years ago that she began donating.

“I’m a chicken when it comes to needles,” she said with a laugh, the explanation as to why it took her so long to donate.

The story goes that there had been a lot of cancellations at one particular blood drive.

“I was calling the National Guard (which was still in town at the time), the hospital, just looking for anyone who would be willing to donate,” she explained. “Then I thought, ‘Okay, since I’m out begging, I need to step up too.’”

Now she’s only one contribution away from the eight-gallon donation mark.

She says she still kind of cringes at the needle, but it is made easier because she doesn’t watch.

“One thing I’ve learned is you have to listen to what they say. You have to take it slow,” after giving blood, she said, a lesson she says she learned the hard way.

The requirements for donating include the person must be at least 16 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.

When a person comes in, they must show a picture ID and bring their blood donor card if they’ve donated before.

Donations can be made every eight weeks for a single unit of blood, or every 16 weeks for doubles – a person is eligible to donate up to three times a year.

At the last Webster blood drive Oct. 6, there were 53 successful donations. That resulted in 64 units. Three of those were first-time donors.

“One donation can save three lives (and) saving lives is important, let’s face it,” she said.
Hoffman said that means up to 159 people may be impacted by this drive through blood transfusions.

“Every three seconds, someone needs blood. Eighty percent of people will need a blood transfusion, but only about five percent donate blood,” she said. “To take an hour out of your day three times a year, if one donation can save three lives, what more can you ask for? The majority of people who come in are proud to do that (donate).”

Hoffman organizes the blood drives with United Blood Services of the Dakotas, which serves 93 hospitals in South and North Dakota and Minnesota. Those hospitals need 500 units of blood every day.

Several other blood drives are held annually in Webster and the communities of Bristol, Roslyn and Waubay.

For more information, go to or visit with a local organizer.

Fiksdal Funeral Home

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player