Volunteer celebrates 90th birthday at blood drive

Lawrence woman has worked with American Red Cross for past 40 years

Margaret Shirk has been a Douglas County Red Cross blood drive volunteer since 1966. Monday she volunteered at First Christian Church where friends and co-workers helped celebrate her 90th birthday.

Margaret Shirk says her volunteer work stems from her simple love of people.

“If you can help somebody along the way, then your living shall not be in vain,” she said, recalling an old song.

For more than 40 years, the Douglas County native has volunteered at the American Red Cross. She works in the reception area during blood drives at First Christian Church.

On Monday, the agency celebrated Shirk as she reached a milestone – her 90th birthday.

“She’s an institution,” said Connie Edwards, blood drive coordinator. “Everybody knows Margaret.”

Every 56 days, or eight weeks, the Red Cross puts on a blood drive at First Christian Church, 10th and Kentucky streets, where donors recline in chairs and listen to music as they give potentially life-saving blood.

But before they donate, each person is greeted by Shirk and her fellow volunteer Les Hannon. Hannon, a blood donor for many years, became a volunteer about a decade ago and joined Shirk’s side at the reception desk.

“I’ve learned more about Lawrence and the people of Lawrence talking with Margaret than I could possibly have imagined any other way,” Hannon said. “You get to know a lot of people coming in and out.”

Some even claim that Shirk is the reason why they donate blood.

“I look forward to seeing Margaret – that’s the big reason why I come,” said Lori Madaus, who stopped by to donate Monday.

“Every time I see her she’s moving and shaking. It must be the key to a long life – moving and shaking.”