Boosting Oklahoma's blood supply

People adore heroes. They are the stuff of the biggest movies, cartoons and comic books. Heroes tend to swoop in during one's worst day and save everyone from destruction.

Did you know 2,246 people took their place as heroes on May 24 and 25, right here in Oklahoma? It was as easy as taking a lunch break for a pulled pork sandwich and sitting around watching TV.

Each year, beginning in 2006, okPORK and the Oklahoma Blood Institute spend the Thursday and Friday before Memorial Day Weekend promoting a blood drive. This blood drive spans the entire state of Oklahoma and includes every donation site statewide.

"It takes an average of 700 blood donors a day across our state to meet the needs of the patients in the 144 hospitals we serve," said Leslie Gamble, the director of community relations for OBI. "That's quite a number when you consider that we have very few blood drives on Sundays and our donor centers are not open then, that really boosts that 'per day' number even higher."

Realizing the detriment holidays can have on the public's schedule, OBI and okPORK decided the days leading up to the Memorial Day holiday weekend would be a perfect time to pull together.

"You can see the impact of a 3-day weekend," Gamble said. "Besides people just being involved in many other activities and vacations, we have no donations on that Monday, and again, very few on Sunday."

To show each donor how much we appreciate them, each one is given small tokens in return for the lifesaving donation they give. Before they leave, each person who donates during the blood drive received a pulled pork sandwich with the fixings and chips donated by okPORK.

They also received a "squeeze" stress-relief pig, a t-shirt and a 16 oz. OBI tumbler. Last, but not least, each donor is entered into a drawing to win a barbecue picnic for 40 people, from okPORK. The winner of this outrageous event is from Edmond and his name is Christopher Newman.

"The Oklahoma Pork Council's support provides tremendous help in encouraging people to make time to give blood," Gamble said. "First, they love those barbeque pork sandwiches.  If they know they can get lunch while they're donating, that's a plus.  Some OBI blood donors have been committed over the years, so when Memorial Day holiday rolls around, they ask if we're going to have those pork sandwiches again!"

This is an event okPORK stands behind each year. Although it takes time, effort and money to successfully plan and arrange an event across multiple cities - it is always worth it. Nobody ever knows when it could be one of our own members or one of our neighbors who are in desperate need.

"Since every donation can save as many as three lives, that means that 6,728 lives were saved by this great partnership," Gamble said.  "Although we rarely think about blood need, those who have ever needed blood or had a friend or family member who did, realize the concern that can be felt.  With help from partners like okPORK, we can allay those anxieties by maintaining a strong blood supply."


Pull some pork and whip up a feast 


Pulled Pork Quesadilla pulled pork quesadillas

1/2 pound cooked pulled pork
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper , cored and cut into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cored and cut into strips
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted at room temperature (optional)
4 nine or ten-inch flour tortillas
2 cup monnterey Jack, Cheddar or Mexican blend, shredded
salsa, for serving (optional)

Cooking Directions
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees F and arrange a baking sheet in the oven.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a plate or bowl and set aside. Carefully wipe out the skillet and set aside.


Lightly spread the butter, if using, on one side of each tortilla. Lay the tortillas, buttered side down, on a work surface. Arrange 1/2 cup of cheese on half of each tortilla, leaving a 1-inch border at the edge. Arrange the bell peppers and pork on top, then fold the tortillas in half over the fillings.


Rewarm the skillet over medium heat. Add 2 of the quesadillas and cook, covered, until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes. Carefully turn and cook, uncovered, until golden brown on the other bottom half and the cheese has melted, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer the finished quesadillas to the baking sheet in the oven. Carefully wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining quesadillas.


Cut each quesadilla into 4 to 6 wedges. Serve with salsa, if using.

Pork Caesar Wraps Pulled Pork Caesar Wrap

1 pound cooked pulled pork
6 nine- to ten-inch flour tortilla
6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped (about 1 head)
3/4 cup Caesar dressing, purchased or homemade, plus more for serving
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


Cooking Directions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet and cook until warm and softened, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a work surface and arrange 1 cup of the romaine in a line across the tortilla, stopping about 2 inches short of one edge. Top with about 2 1/2 ounces of the pork, 2 tablespoons of the dressing, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the cheese. Fold one side of the tortilla up and over the fillings, tucking the fillings in tightly, then fold in the 2-inch edge. Continue rolling the tortilla toward the other side, securing it with a toothpick if necessary.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve additional dressing on the side, for dipping.
* If you prefer to heat all of the tortillas at once, microwave them on high until warm and softened, 30 to 60 seconds.

Makes 6 servings
About Oklahoma Pork Council

The Oklahoma Pork Council, a producer organization consisting of Oklahoma pork producers, represents the interests of all pork producers. Partially funded by federally collected Pork Checkoff dollars, OPC promotes pork and pork products, funds research, and educates consumers and producers about the pork industry. For more information about this or any other programs of the Oklahoma Pork Council visit or call 1.405.232.3781.

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