I'LL DO anything for free food.
I don't really dig the "ham-on-a-toothpick" sampler at major supermarkets and most other options involve shoplifting; which, as you may know, is illegal.
Rejoice fellow dietary opportunistas there is an institution where free rewards range from cheese and crackers, fun-size Mars Bars and individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies to hot snacks.
All you've got to do is give a little blood.
I've been giving blood on and off for six years and always hear the same excuses from friends as to why they won't donate - "I hate the sight of blood" or "I'm afraid of needles".
Let me dispel the myth - You don't have to look at your blood; try looking away; a physical function you may be familiar with.
And the needle used does not evoke an image of an evil doctor wielding a disease riddled syringe; yes you'll experience a little prick in your arm but you're a grown up! Handle it!
Before I bully you into making an appointment there are of course some of us who cannot donate.
This includes pregnant women, someone who has received a tattoo in the last year, if you're under 16 or over 70, have a blood condition or weigh less than 45kg.
First step is phoning Red Cross Australia's Blood Service. Their phone operators are the nicest around.
They'll ask you a few questions to determine your eligibility and book you into a clinic near you.
The Lismore clinic is, from what I've heard, incredible/best-snacks-ever but you can also donate at the mobile blood service in Ballina (The Richmond Room behind the library) which I did.
Again, the nurses are some of the friendliest folk this side of Sesame Street.
They make you feel like your blood is a famous person; your veins are superstars.
My gorgeous nurse was Sandra.
We began with a blood pressure test and a glycemic index check (I hate this part).
Sandra had to prick my finger with a pin and take a blood sample. If the reading is too low you can't give blood.
Then into the chair for the main event. Once they find a juicy vein it's disinfected and the needle goes in.
Before I gave blood I had always envisioned they simply extracted a syringe of blood then hey presto it's over.
They connect to a collection bag for about 15 minutes and keep you occupied with a good old chat.
Mostly the nurses tell you interesting facts about blood - I won't drivel on about it here because, of course, you'll find out about when you donate yourself, right?
One in three Australians will need blood and only one in 30 people donates.
Your sample can help up to three people who could be suffering from cancer, a traumatic accident, burns, undergoing surgery et al.
And that sense of pride well outweighs that little sting from the needle... and the free food is just the cherry on the cake.
- To make an appointment with your local branch phone 131 195.
- You can donate blood once every three months, plasma every two weeks.
- Ask about donating platelets and about plasma which is what they need most.
- Visit donateblood.com.au for more information