Giving blood is one of the easiest ways you can help save a life and give back. And while most people receive gifts on their birthday, one Kearney woman has found a way to give the greatest gift of all on her special day -- the gift of life.
Ellie Miller, 26, has been a blood donor since high school.
"I just think it was kind of something that was always in the back of my head," she said. "When I was in school, we worked a lot with transplant patients, so those patients were always unique and kind of special in my heart, so I always kind of think of them when I go donate blood."
But she's not just a donor -- she's also a volunteer. As her birthday approached last year, Miller got the idea to give back by hosting a birthday party blood drive.
"I was sitting at home and I was getting ready to come in to give blood, and then my birthday was in a couple months, and so I just put the two together and thought it would be kind of fun," she said. "A lot of my family donates blood, and I've tried to get my friends to come in and donate blood with me."
Instead of a gift, her friends and family donate a pint of blood.
"I just think it's fantastic because she's young, she's energetic, and what more selfless thing can you do or ask for on your birthday than to have somebody come in and give blood and save a life," Kearney Red Cross donor recruitment supervisor Kim Pegg, said.
"Donating is the best feeling because it's your blood that's actually going and you don't ever know who it touches, but you know that it's going to help someone," Miller said, "and it's something you always hope that you don't need, but if you do ever need that, you hope it's in the bank and available. So I think it's really neat just to be able to give my friends and family the opportunity to donate."
Miller and her husband try to give blood every eight weeks, and she's actually gearing up to host her second birthday blood drive in June.