Not checks, but blood donated at Arlington Heights LifeSource
Jaleen Hinz works two jobs, 75 hours a week and doesn't have a lot of free time. Yet on Saturday morning, she snuggled under a blanket and watched the "Pirates of the Caribbean" with a needle in each arm.
"Donating platelets is something important that I can do," said the Palatine resident. "For me it's a lot easier than writing a check. Plus it's not that bad. I don't even feel the needle go in anymore."
Like Hinz, fewer people are writing a lot of checks these days. While charitable contributions might be hard to come by, donating blood or platelets doesn't cost a thing. Plenty of good will was flowing along with the blood around the Arlington Heights LifeSource donor center Saturday where regulars filled the chairs.
Donations in the Chicago area are up slightly this year compared to last year, said LifeSource spokesman Tammy Basile.
"People don't have as much disposable income and are not able to make the charitable contributions they have in the past," Basile said. "Many of these individuals are donating blood because it contributes to the community by saving up to three lives with their one donation, doesn't cost anything and only takes an hour of their time."
While it takes an hour to donate blood, it takes about two hours to donate platelets, which help clot blood and are mostly given to cancer patients, said LifeSource donor specialist Christina Greco.
Hinz donates using both arms. Platelets and plasma exit one arm while red blood cells re-enter her body through her other arm.
John Rischket, another platelet donor, just uses one arm so he can sip coffee and check his iPhone with his free arm.
"I come here so my wife can have some free time to do what she wants," said Rischket with a smile. "It's pretty relaxing to just sit and watch TV for a while."
Rischket was doing more than giving his wife a break. In reality, the Arlington Heights man was giving back to the unknown people who helped his son, Jack, who was born prematurely and spent six weeks in intensive care. Today, Jack is a healthy two-year-old.
"He's great," Rischket said. "He's actually big for his age now."
Noland Langford, of Buffalo Grove, put off buying a new car this year but stuck to his promise to donate blood.
"We're trying to cut back, take fewer trips to the shopping mall, that kind of thing," he said. "But we're still giving clothes to charity and giving blood. Those are much less costly."
Stuart Meier is a Buffalo Grove pilot who flies private jets out of the Chicago Executive Airport near Wheeling. The bad news is business is down. The good news is that means Meier right has more time to give blood.
"Normally I can't fit this into my schedule because pilots can't donate blood 72 hours before flying," Meier said. "But I can now because of the economy. This is probably the first time in three years, I've been able to do this."
Diane Marzigliano has been coming to the Arlington Heights blood center about four times a year for the past 10 years. On Saturday, she flipped through a magazine while a nurse inserted a needle without so much as a wince.
"You know what I like about this? The feeling you get walking out the door," Marzigliano said. "It's great. This saves a lot of lives and it doesn't cost me a thing. It's the least I can do."
LifeSource is the largest blood center in Illinois and distributes a half-million blood products annually to 60 area hospitals. To find out where you might go to donate, go to www.lifesource.org