Blood drive for Sport Chalet burn victims

Trish Hall, of Pasadena, leaves after making an appointment to give blood at Sport Chalet Corporate Offices in La Cañada Flintridge. Two Sport Chalet employees were severely burned in an explosion. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / March 26, 2013)

Friends, family and co-workers of the two Sport Chalet employees who were severely burned in an explosion at the La Cañada Flintridge store earlier this month donated 64 pints of blood on Tuesday.

The blood-drive event, held inside Sport Chalet's corporate offices, honored Lauren Polzin, 27, and Victor Gonzalez, 25. The two employees were injured after they were reportedly asked to turn off a gas valve in a utility closet near the pool area of the store on March 1. The store sits in the Town Center, adjacent to the corporate headquarters.

Sport Chalet partnered with American Red Cross to host the six-hour blood drive, one of several initiatives to support the employees' families. Nearly 100 people signed up to give blood, with 64 successful donations, said Courtney Caldwell, a donor recruitment representative for Red Cross.

“We had a really amazing community turnout,” Caldwell said. The goal had been to collect 36 donations.

Jennifer Belleville, a friend of Polzin's husband, Neil Polzin, said she drove from Hesperia, more than 70 miles from La Cañada Flintridge.

Belleville said she donated her blood in the company of friends and co-workers of both Neil and Lauren Polzin. “When I found out what happened, I wanted to help out in anyway that I could,” said the 29-year-old.

The company has also raised thousands of dollars for each employee through the website GiveForward. The money is available at any time to the families of Polzin and Gonzalez, according to Sport Chalet.

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Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.