Flashback Friday: The Cookie Lady

We chatted with volunteer Muriel Steffen just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Since volunteer duties had been put on hold when our newsletter deadline rolled around, we decided to hold her feature. Muriel’s story is just too heartfelt to not share, though, so enjoy this pre-COVID-19 Flashback Friday feature!

Local Volunteer Puts in the Miles, Creates Endless Smiles
by Claire DeRoin
February 2020

Affectionately known as “the Cookie Lady,” regular LifeServe volunteer Muriel Steffen brings a certain sweetness to LifeServe blood drives in northwest Iowa.

It started with a blood drive publicity poster. While visiting the Southpark Mall in Spencer, Iowa, Muriel spotted a poster for an upcoming LifeServe blood drive. A community liaison for a local hospice organization, Muriel is always on the lookout for ways to volunteer while chatting with community members about the benefits of hospice.

“I just thought, gosh,” Muriel said, “I think I could do something with them.”

Muriel called LifeServe and things fell into place. Now she’s a blood drive staple, posting up in the snack area with a friendly smile and her own assortment of cookies. She’s an absolute hit – donors have even given her shout outs on their post-donation surveys!

“I see some of the same donors time after time and they recognize me and come say hello before they even give blood!” Muriel said. “I enjoy it. It’s my way of giving back to the community.”

It’s not just chatting with donors over her special snacks. Muriel is quick to assist where needed, whether it’s setting up chairs or tearing down tables. The LifeServe team is so impressed with Muriel’s dedication that they have a new running joke.

“Last time I was in Marcus, they said they might as well teach me to draw blood, too!”

There’s no precise radius or formula to predict where the Cookie Lady will pop up. If Muriel visits a community blood drive one month, she’ll skip their next drive and visit a new community. How far is she willing to travel from her home in Spencer?

“Oh, maybe a hundred miles,” she said with a chuckle.

LifeServe Territory Representative Allie Wegner sends a monthly list upcoming blood drives Muriel’s way so that she can pick and choose which drives she’ll attend.

“It’s always nice when community members are willing to get involved,” Allie said. “Seeing an outside person volunteer their time to support us brings a different perspective to why blood donation is important.”

It all goes to show that even if you can’t take your turn in the donor chair, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a huge difference in our lifesaving mission. Muriel doesn’t have plans to stop anytime soon, so if you’re in northwestern Iowa, you could be seeing the Cookie Lady at one of your drives soon!