Steve Sabatke of Merrill was dressed for the occasion at the MASH Blood Drive. Sabatke, a member of Mar-Lin VFW Post 10203, was involved in arranging for military vehicles and an authentic Army tent to be on hand at the event.
Steve Sabatke of Merrill was dressed for the occasion at the MASH Blood Drive. Sabatke, a member of Mar-Lin VFW Post 10203, was involved in arranging for military vehicles and an authentic Army tent to be on hand at the event.
The 22nd Annual Merrill MASH Blood Drive drew hundreds to Kitchenette Park Thursday to help bolster the area’s blood supply. 
A complimentary brat fry was provided by Geiss Meat Market. Donors also received a free MASH t-shirt. Attendees were encouraged to bring a photo of a special veteran to honor them at the blood drive.
Local veterans groups added to the authenticity of the MASH experience by arranging for a vintage WWII MASH tent, along with military vehicle to be on display.
Community Blood Center holds three MASH blood drives per year, one each in Merrill, Rhinelander and Appleton. The fun atmosphere draws hundreds during a time of year when blood donations are typically low. 
“We really have to push hard in those warm months,” said Jan Hadsell, Community Blood Center donor resources.
The Merrill MASH drive had a goal of collecting 290 units of blood and was closing in on that number by late Thursday afternoon.
“The community has been very supportive of our drive today,” said Kirsten Hutchison, manager of collections for the Community Blood Center. “We can quickly boost our inventory of blood.”
Hutchison said the fun atmosphere of the MASH drives attract new donors every year. Kitchenette Park, she added, is a perfect setting for the MASH drive.
A dozen local volunteers helped with the MASH drive, handling registration and café duties.
“We have volunteers in every community,” Hutchison said. “Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
Community Blood Center provides all the blood for the five Ministry Network hospitals in northern Wisconsin, including Ministry Good Samaritan in Merrill and Ministry Sacred Heart in Tomahawk. They also provide all the blood for Ministry St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander, Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff and the VA Hospital in Iron Mountain, MI. 
Community Blood Center has set donation hours around its service area, including from 12-6:30 p.m. every Monday at Good Samaritan. The weekly Merrill collection draws an average of 50 donors per week. The blood center also does mobile drives at churches, schools and anywhere people want to host a blood drive.
Since 1955, the Community Blood Center has worked with volunteer blood donors to provide a steady, reliable blood supply for hospitals. Today, the blood center remains a nonprofit organization committed to serving hospital patients.The blood center is also a donor center with the National Marrow Donor Program, facilitating transplants for patients with life-threatening diseases.