LAKE ARIEL—Amid the hustle and bustle of Black Friday shopping this year, county residents are invited to stop by the Lake Ariel Fire Hall (1381 Lake Ariel Highway) between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and give the gift of life via blood donation.

“It's the holiday season, and it's better to give than receive,” stated drive coordinator Heidi Clauss.

Cosponsored by the Fire Department and California-based “Give Blood Play Hockey” inline hockey charity tournament, the blood drive is an annual event started a decade ago in memory of Lake Ariel native Peter Oliver Clauss – Heidi's father.

Later in his life, Peter developed the bone marrow cancer known as Multiple myeloma, surviving with the disease for 15 years until he passed away ten years ago, explained Heidi.

She explained the dual tournament and blood drive began in 2007 when her niece – Peter's granddaughter – Mary Quayle-Korus organized the tournament with the help of her parents for her high school senior project.

“There's a saying in hockey, 'give blood play hockey,' ” said Heidi, commenting on how well the donation drive and tournament fit together, “because you're always bleeding by the time you get done.”

The three-day tournament features well over 100 teams consisting of players of all ages and abilities.

The event raises money and and collects blood donations as a means of replenishing the pints of blood used by Peter during his treatments, said Heidi.

She estimates he used about 30 pints in total, a number quickly matched by donors at the tournament and blood drive.

Since its inception, the tournament and blood drive has collected over 3,000 pints of blood and donated over $750,000 to the Children's Hospital of Orange County.

According to the Give Blood Play Hockey's website, they're on track to break $1 million in 2018.

Give Blood Play Hockey has also expanded to include supplying scholarships to high school seniors.

Having completed their eleventh tournament on the weekend of October 19, Give Blood Play Hockey shows no signs of slowing down.

“That's pretty amazing. I can't believe it,” exclaimed Heidi, reflecting on all that has come of her niece's efforts.

Heidi explained she started organizing an annual Lake Ariel blood drive in conjunction with the tournament to add to the numbers raised each year.

Though the blood stays local, the amount raised is collected into the annual totals for Give Blood Play Hockey.

It has grown to be quite the family affair, said Heidi, with her nephews – now high school seniors – getting involved as well.

Heidi said she chose Black Friday for the upcoming drive because Geisinger Blood Center provides a monetary donation if the group can gather at least 30 donors at two separate events held on unusual days.

She encourages as many people as possible to get into the holiday spirit next Friday and give a gift that can save lives.

There is still time to sign up for next week's drive. Those interested can do so online at http://geisingerbloodcenter.org.

Walk-ins will be accepted.

More information is available by calling Heidi at 570-504-6373.