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Locals Roll Up Sleeves For Benefit Blood Drive
blood drive
You may not be able to see it, but donor Christine Foreman and Red Cross staffer Laura Pinola are smiling under their masks. Foreman is by no means a first time donor and makes sure to come and donate whenever her schedule allows; she was on hand Friday to support the blood drive for local teen Izzy Morales. Autumn Neal/The Leader

The blood drive on Friday, June 19 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center held special meaning for locals as many came in support of Isabelle ‘Izzy’ Morales, a local Oakdale High School student currently battling leukemia. The event, which already didn’t accept walk-ins due to COVID-19 concerns, had all of their donation slots completely packed with those pre-registered to donate.

Featured at the event were bright orange posters detailing Izzy’s journey as it has progressed over the last few months.

The first sign was a note from her family: “The Kearnes-Morales family want to extend a huge thank you to the Oakdale community and beyond for wrapping your arms around us after our daughter, Izzy, was diagnosed with leukemia. The many prayers, cards, gifts, comforting messages, money donations, fundraising with decals, T-shirts, jewelry, photography, chalk walk, a food train, and blood drive have lifted our spirits and helped us in this difficult time. The countless support from our Orange Blossom 4H club, neighbors, teachers, friends and even people we don’t know personally have been much appreciated. Thanks to friends and neighbors for their time and labor to prep for Izzy’s homecoming!”

The note also offered a “big thank you” from the whole family, for not only supporting Izzy, but her siblings at home with food, an 18th birthday drive-by, wonderful HS senior support, and concern for their well-being as well.

“We are eternally grateful and blessed to live in this very giving and selfless Oakdale community. Thank you all.”

The posters then followed Izzy from April to the present with pictures of her initial bruising, diagnosis, countless visits to the hospital, mail call support from the community, and updates as Izzy has progressed. These signs, as well as social media, have been flooded with hashtags like #dizzyforIzzy and #walkwithIzzy.

Volunteers at the blood drive also sported custom T-shirts with the orange leukemia ribbon with monarch wings and the simple phrase “Walk With Izzy / Her fight is our fight.”

The blood drive had all available slots filled and was packed throughout the day, with those donating giving either regular donations or power red donations.

American Red Cross Blood Services spokesperson Christine Welch classified the drive as a huge success.

“Thanks to the generous volunteer blood donors, the blood drive collected 74 units and there were 40 first-time donors,” Welch said. “For anyone who couldn’t make it and is interested in donating blood in honor of Izzy, there is a SleevesUp campaign where those in the community can register to donate in her name at a future blood drive.”

Go to for more information.

Red Cross will also be back in the next month with a drive set for Tuesday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second Ave.