PLAINVIEW, Minn. – Routine is a part of Stacy Miller’s life, whether that is in the barn, with his family or in his community.
    Aside from dairy farming, Miller is also a regular blood donor.  
    “It was a suggestion from my dad,” Miller said. “In high school, we did blood typing, and I found out that my blood type was a rare one so my dad suggested that I donate.”
    Miller milks 80 cows with his wife, Julie, daughters, Melendy, 20, and Mika, 18, and son, Markus, 18, near Plainview, Minn.
    The dairy farmer began donating in his early 20s and continues donating yet today.
     It’s not always an easy thing to do,” Miller said. “The farming has to come first.”
    Miller has reminders set up with the Mayo Clinic blood bank  in Rochester, Minn., to let him know when he is eligible to donate, which is about every eight weeks.
    “I’ll pop in on a rainy day or make a trip of it,” Miller said. “If I go to Rochester (Minn.), I can run other errands or pick up some stuff I’ll need on the farm.”
    Other than the travel, donating blood does not interfere with his daily work.
    “You might feel a little more tired than usual, but I always come home and get right back in the swing of things,” Miller said. “It doesn’t affect me that much.”
    Miller sports his achievement pins on his blood donor hat, exhibiting a one-gallon, three-gallon and five-gallon pin.
    “After leaving a wrestling meet one night, I had my blood donor hat on and some unknown person came up to me, wanted to shake my hand and said, ‘I want to thank you for donating blood. If it wasn’t for people like you I wouldn’t be here,’” Miller said. “It was nice to have a compliment from someone who benefited from it.”
    Miller believes in leading by example and is proud all his kids donate blood now.
    “They started donating when they were 18, so I think that’s really neat,” Miller said. “My children, Melendy and Markus, donate on a regular basis and a lot of times we will go together to donate. The fact that my kids are thinking that it’s important, that’s pretty cool.”
    While Miller attends blood drives, a local youth organization hosts them.
    Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA chapter puts on a school-wide blood drive every year in the fall and spring. In addition to students and teachers donating, a number of community members and FFA alumni donate, as well, a lot of whom are dairy farmers.
    “We started as a community activity service within our FFA and through it, it also provides students with scholarship opportunities,” said Seena Glessing, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA advisor. “If you donate three times in high school, the Red Cross gives out red graduation cords. They also provide a scholarship to one of our organizers or chairman of our blood drive each year, which is neat.”
    Glessing likes the idea of getting her students in the habit at a young age.
    “… If the first time giving blood is in a safe environment they hopefully will continue to donate blood the rest of their lives,” Glessing said. “You very quickly get over the fear in your mind that you have of needles or of the process and realize that it is for the betterment of others and a service to others.”
    Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, according to the American Red Cross.
    The American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers have both stated a critical blood shortage, forcing the cancellation of elective surgeries in some cities. Blood shortages are common in the summer, when schools and businesses are less likely to host blood drives, but a crisis in September is unusual, according to both groups.
    Donations are needed more than ever.
    The FFA’s blood drive usually yields 70 units each time. According to the American Red Cross, one donation can save up to three lives.
    “I think if we continue to provide opportunities for our students to serve others, whether it’s a blood drive or another activity, hopefully they will continue to be servant leaders the rest of their lives,” Glessing said. “And make this place where we live a little better.”
    With the help of dairy farmers, a blood shortage can be alleviated.