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Season of giving: Spotlight on Owatonna Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer Sara Hillesland

OWATONNA, Minn. 12/12/2017  Sara Hillesland has proudly volunteered her time with Owatonna Hospital Auxiliary for 23 years. Starting in Patient Courtesy — delivering food, beverages and other amenities to patient care rooms and visiting areas — she now spends her time volunteering in the Pink Pantry Coffee & Gift Shoppe.

“I would visit the Pink Pantry, and then I found out I could volunteer there,” says Hillesland about why she chose to volunteer her time in this service area.

Not only has she been a long-time volunteer, Hillesland is actively and deeply involved. She works twice a month but often fills shifts in between. She adds with a sweet smile, “Serving people is fun; I picked up an extra eight shifts in November at the Pink Pantry.”

The Pink Pantry is just one of many areas individuals can volunteer as much or as little of their time as they want.  In fact, other than the Pink Pantry’s supervisor, it’s exclusively staffed by volunteers, so the need is important and the value is great.

It’s become a relatively well-known gift shop in the area because of its unique offerings including a variety of different local pastries and beverages as well as clothes and trinkets. In her own way, Hillesland contributed to this current business model.

“When we were at the old hospital, I was the chair of the Coffee Shop, and I made a lot of changes during that time… changes for the better,” she says. “One example is that all items at the time used to come from the hospital kitchen…I started purchasing food items from other locations and bringing in different things for customers; the sales went up.”

While it was definitely her most proud volunteer moment, Hillesland also adds that people should give back, “out of gratitude for what we have, and there is such satisfaction in doing it.”

Tis the season of giving, and there are so many ways people can give back. “What else can you do that’s more important than that,” she says. “We’ve been a great asset to the hospital; plus, it’s just a place I love to come to… it’s so cheerful and enjoyable.”

In addition to the Pink Pantry Coffee & Gift Shoppe, individuals can volunteer in a number of service areas including:

  • Groundskeeping
  • Information Desk
  • Therapy Services
  • Sewing
  • Grab bags

“Volunteering is needed, and you just need to give back,” says Hillesland. “We are blessed in so many ways.”

Join Hillesland, along with more than 300 other generous individuals, during this Season of Giving. To learn more or become a volunteer, visit or call 507-977-2778.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services.

sara hillesland