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Vibrant volunteer treats every Red Cross donor like a blood relative

Our Person of the Week, Dottie Burton, went seamlessly from decades in retail to volunteering for nonprofits.

"You all come over and help yourself!" she said recently at the Mountain Area Chapter Red Cross.

When customer service is in your blood, apparently you just can't turn it off.

Burton is a blood donor ambassador, and she's something of a star attraction.

For 20 years, she's greeted donors at the door and made sure they sit down for a snack or beverage after they've given something precious.

"And she just has this aura of happiness and welcoming," Alison Gibbons, volunteer services specialist, said. "Donors come from Boone, from Johnson City, just to see her because she's so great at speaking to them and making them feel welcome."

She's worth the drive. In fact, some won't even come in if Burton is not there.

"And I'll tell them to bring people with them, and they do!" she said proudly. "I have met so many people in here, all of them are wonderful, I have to say. I love them all."

Gibbons said Burton's charm works like a charm.

"They're coming in to give blood to save a life," she said. "So, I'm going to be here ready to help them."

It's one thing to exchange pleasantries and yet another to truly care.

We saw examples of that constantly while shadowing Burton.

"You look so beautiful, look at that scarf," she told one regular. "See, you match everything!"

"Well, I'm doing great. How are you doing?" she asked another donor.

"I haven't seen you since last year," he replied.

"I'm glad you came in today," she responded. "How bout some water?"

Her energy's impressive considering Burton is 85.

She spent three decades working at Belk.

That retail resume has translated into great people skills.

"Well, Dottie is an amazing volunteer," Gibbons gushed. "And she turns compassion into action every day."

It seems like Burton treats every client as if they're a blood relative.

It's a perfect match for the ultimate people person.

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