As the American Red Cross faces a blood shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities to donate are popping up all over the lakes area.

One resident did her part to not only help with the shortage but thank others who did the same.

Tammy Ebertowski donated blood for the first time Friday, April 3, at the Brainerd Veterans of Foreign Wars. She also pooled money with some friends to purchase gift cards to local businesses for a drawing. Everyone who donated at the VFW drive Thursday and Friday got their name in the drawing for a gift card. Everyone who donated would most likely get a prize, she said.

“We’re just being generous because we want to give back to our community and thank our heroes,” she said during a phone interview Tuesday, March 31.

As a health care worker herself at Good Samaritan Society-Woodland in Brainerd, Ebertowski said she has been touched by everything going on right now and is grateful for the solidarity of the Brainerd lakes community.

“We’re all showing compassion and showing that we all care about each other and going out of the way to make a difference with all the health care doctors and nurses out there that are on the front lines,” she said. “... I just have been just totally amazed with how we've all come together just to unite with each other.”

But the gift cards weren’t the only unique elements Ebertowski brought to last week’s blood drive. While donating Friday, she flaunted an eye-catching Statue of Liberty costume. She said the outfit was a way to highlight the beautiful country she lives in.

“I’m grateful for our freedoms that we still have in this day and age,” she said.

And if all Ebertowski’s efforts helped save just one life, she said it was worth it.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.