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"It was right after Hurricane Katrina."/> Queenie’s, Bailey’s offer a sweet deal for blood donors | News, Sports, Jobs - SANIBEL-CAPTIVA - Island Reporter, Islander and Current
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Queenie’s, Bailey’s offer a sweet deal for blood donors

By Staff | Jun 23, 2010

Viglione poses with her brother at a Lee County blood drive in the parking lot of Bailey's General Store in 2008. Anyone who donates blood on July 2, 2010 will receive two free pints of Queenie's Homemade Ice Cream.

Queenie’s Homemade Ice Cream, Lee Memorial Blood Centers and Bailey’s General Store are joining forces for a special blood drive on Friday, July 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For donating one pint of blood, donors will receive two pints of Queenie’s Homemade Ice Cream in return.

A few years ago, Queenie’s Homemade Ice Cream owner Vanessa “Queenie” Viglione approached Richard Johnson of Bailey’s General Store with an idea.

“It was right after Hurricane Katrina. I was watching the effects of the storm on television and I remember thinking about how much more we could be giving. We donated financially as much as we thought we could, but I wondered what else I could do,” Viglione said. “That’s when I contacted Richard, and he thought it was a great idea.”

Johnson then contacted the local Blood Bank and set the plan in motion, and since then, twice a year, the LMBC “bloodmobile” parks at Bailey’s General Store offering up two pints of Queenie’s ice cream — in the flavor of your choice — in exchange for a pint of much needed blood.

Viglione’s mother, Vera Yonkers, donating blood in 2008. Yonkers is a breast cancer survivor, and until a few years ago, she was not able to donate blood because of her bout with the disease and chemotherapy.

“The idea of giving of giving one pint and getting two pints really sweetens the deal,” Viglione said.

But it isn’t just the delicious ice cream that makes this a sweet deal.

According to the LMBC, just one pint of blood can save the lives of several people — if your one-pint donation is separated into different components, the platelets might go to a child with leukemia, a patient with a clotting problem might receive the plasma and the red blood cells might go to an accident victim. During the donation process, all donors will have their blood pressure and pulse, temperature, iron level, cholesterol level and blood type checked at no cost.

For Viglione, donating blood is a family tradition.

“I’ve donated blood as far back as I can remember and I have a family history of blood donors. My grandfather, was a magistrate and a newspaper editor and he would tell us stories about donating blood in World War II. During the war, you would donate blood on the field, and my grandfather told us that you could actually see the life going into the person. My dad’s always been a donor too,” she said.

But for Viglione’s mother, Vera Yonkers, it was a different story. As a person who undergone chemotherapy for cancer, Yonkers was not allowed to donate blood.

“When I initiated this, my mom had just moved to Fort Myers and it had been 17 years since her breast cancer. Luckily, the Red Cross had just changed their regulations, and you can donate blood 12 months after you’ve ended your chemo and the cancer is gone. We started donating as a mother-daughter activity,” Viglione said.

Viglione says she’s pleased with how the “give a pint, get a pint” program has grown, and she encourages veteran donors and potential donors alike to join movement.

“Donating blood is something most anybody can do. It doesn’t take too much of your time and, anybody that comes on the bus and attempts to donate, they get two pints anyway,” Viglione said, noting that after someone donates –or at least tries to — they’ll receive a coupon good for two pints of Queenie’s Homemade Ice Cream, valid for up to six months after the donation.

“The people at the Blood Bank always say that the type of blood that’s needed is the type that you have — because you never know when you’ll have an accident. I really like that fact that the blood stays in our community. If there is a need elsewhere, they’ll send it, but I like the idea of putting blood into our local banks,” Viglione said. “We’ve come close, but I’m looking forward to the day where the blood bank tells me that they’ve reached their maximum capacity and we have to start turning people away.”

To do your part — and get two pints of free ice cream — keep an eye out for the big, purple bloodmobile parked in the Bailey’s General Store parking lot on July 2. To register as a donor in advance, you can sign up at the Bailey’s Service Desk or call 472-1516. Walk-ins are also welcome.