Leland Olds Station employee’s tasty talent offers an extra incentive to donate blood


Donating blood isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but when it comes to getting people to do it, Mary Robson is one smart cookie.

Robson is an administrative assistant III at Leland Olds Station near Stanton, North Dakota, and has been the coordinator for the plant’s blood drives for the past 13 years, notifying employees about the three drives held each year, scheduling the donations, and lining up the snacks that need to be available for those who donate blood.

“I used to go out and buy packaged store-bought cookies, but I love to bake, so I started bringing in a few homemade ones,” Robson says. “They went over so well, that I started making more and more, and now I just make them all.”

“Making them all” is a lot of cookies, considering Leland Olds hosts three blood drives a year, all during times of crucial need, such as the summer months and around Christmas time when many people travel, and in the springtime. Because she knows how desperately blood is needed during those times, Robson’s goal is to get 50 people to donate at each blood drive, and she bakes three cookies for every person that signs up –that’s about 12 dozen cookies.

She says she makes some of them ahead of time and freezes them, but for the most part she bakes them the night before the blood drive, which takes hours. But because she knows everyone looks forward to them, she takes the time to do it. She says that she can’t donate blood herself, so it is her way of doing what she can for this important cause.

“The very favorite is the frosted banana cookies, but others love the sugar cookies and, of course, chocolate chip,” she says. “They come in and look for the cookies right away,” she laughs. “Some have one before they donate and a few more after – some eat more and some eat less.”

Camille Jones, donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services says 250 blood products are needed every day to supply the hospitals in the region with what they need. Last year, Leland Olds’ three blood drives brought in 150 products. Every product saves three lives.

“This is a huge blood drive for us,” Jones says, “and Mary’s special touches, like her banana frosted cookies, are what help make it successful. I could come out and ask people to donate, but I know the response wouldn’t be the same. It’s good coordinators like her that ensure a blood drive’s success.”

Leland Olds’ most recent blood drive on Aug. 15 was Robson’s last, as she is retiring in mid-September. That day, Jones made a special trip from Bismarck, North Dakota to Stanton to present her with a special award for all she has done for United Blood Services. Watch the video.

“It’s not every day we find a coordinator that has gone out of her way multiple times a year to bring people out to donate for us,” Jones said when presenting the award. “We want to honor Mary for her efforts, and what better way than with a Red Cord Award?” The Red Cord Award was created to recognize high school students who have donated blood multiple times, and Jones says it is the first time she’s given it to a coordinator in recognition for her commitment to the blood program.

Robson says that some of the regular blood donors joke that once she retires and takes her banana cookie recipe with her, they’re going to stop donating, but then they laugh and say they’re just kidding. “Once the next person takes over, I’ll let him or her decide what to do about the cookies,” Robson says. “But if someone asks me to bake them again, I’d probably do it,” she says.

How sweet is that?


  1. Darlene Steffan says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of Mary’s banana frosted cookies and I can vouch they are AWESOME! You and your cookies will be missed!!

  2. Tammy DeWitt says:

    I worked with Mary for quite a few years at LOS – those frosted banana cookies are to die for! My kids loved them as well. Congrats, Mary, on your retirement! LOS will miss you!

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