For the 240th time Thursday afternoon, Marvin Skaer put out his left arm and waited for the needle.
“I love that needle,” the 82-year-old retired baker from Millstadt said Thursday afternoon. “I can’t wait from one time to the next.”
With more than a dozen friends and family in tow, Skaer walked into the gym at Millstadt Consolidated School to take part in a Red Cross blood drive. This trip was a little more special than previous ones. With this donation of a pint of Type O blood, Skaer hit the 30-gallon mark, the latest milestone in a lifetime filled with dedication to the Red Cross and its mission.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Skaer said matter-of-factly. “My blood is good, and I’ve never been turned down.”
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When he gave that first pint back in 1953, Skaer hadn’t been waiting for the opportunity to give. His mother, Lorena, took him to a blood drive. The family thought it would be good to help the war effort by giving blood, since Skaer’s brother had been injured while fighting in the Korean War. That trip started a history of giving that has lasted 63 years.
Want to match Skaer’s giving history? It won’t be easy. Red Cross rules say donors can only give once every 56 days. That means donors can give just over six times a year. To reach the 30-gallon mark like Skaer, a donor would have to consistently donate for nearly 37 years.
Skaer, who operated Marv’s Pastry Shop in Millstadt for 20 years, likely would have reached his 30th gallon a long time ago had it not been for a two-year Army stint in the mid-1950s, when he was stationed in France. He also took four mission trips to South America during his life. After he returned home from each of those, he had to wait a year before he was eligible to give again. He doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, and just recently started donating blood platelets, something he can do every two weeks.
“That takes about 90 minutes,” Skaer said of donating platelets.
And how long does it take to give blood?
“About 5 minutes,” he said with a laugh.
Although some family members also signed up to donate Thursday, Skaer said he is the only one in his family who gives on a regular basis. He once took his wife, Irene, to donate, but that didn’t turn out very well.
“I got sick and spent the night on the couch, so now I shy away,” she said.
Once his blood was drawn Thursday, Marvin Skaer was feted by family and Red Cross volunteers. The Red Cross gave him a cap and a pin to commemorate his 30th gallon. His family gave him a shirt that his twin granddaughters had bought for him for Christmas. It read, “Every Pint Matters.”
For more than 60 years, every pint has mattered to Skaer.
“I just can’t wait to come the next time,” he said.