Staff Report

With the help of a generous community, the Vikings of Solvang collected a record number of donations — 161 units of blood and plasma — at their blood drive March 4.

The effort was administered by employees of Vitalant (formerly United Blood Services), with all coordination and other support provided by Vikings members.

“Once again, people in the Santa Ynez Valley showed their true spirit, taking the time to give the gift of life to people they may never meet,” said Vikings Chief Richard Kline. “We’ve been hosting blood drives for decades, and this is the best response we’ve ever had.”

“The Vikings’ mission is to take care of our community, so a gift of blood is a really a gift to ourselves,” added Kim Jensen, who chairs the blood drive with fellow Viking Aaron Petersen.

In addition to publicizing and coordinating their blood drives twice a year, the Vikings offer each donor a $25 voucher for dinner at a participating restaurant. This year, Vitalant also offered a $10 gift card that was redeemable online at iTunes, Amazon, Target, Chipotle, Domino’s, or Barnes and Noble.

Another milestone the Vikings recently achieved was being able to provide $3 million in aid since they were founded in 1974, solely on the strength of tax-deductible donations from Vikings members and others in the community. The Vikings have zero overhead costs because they have no employees or office, and members pay for all operating costs — so every penny donated goes directly to helping someone. Each donation is invested in a carefully managed endowment fund, which has allowed the group to maximize each dollar donated by earning interest on it.

About $1 million of the total has been made to individuals since the Vikings were founded in 1974. The other $2 million has been donated to organizations such as local senior centers or spent on the Vikings’ annual Christmas party for special-needs children and their teachers in northern Santa Barbara County.

The Vikings medically related grants have helped local people build wheelchair ramps, get prosthetic limbs, buy disabled-accessible vehicles, pay their insurance deductibles and fulfill many other needs.

The Vikings of Solvang are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides help for the medically related needs of qualified people and organizations in Santa Barbara County, with a goal of improving people’s quality of life.

For more information about the Vikings, go to or email Chief Richard Kline at