Ann Lloyd and Kurt Engelmeier

Ann Lloyd and Kurt Engelmeier, of St. Paul, display their COVID-19 vaccination record cards. The couple received the vaccines in Mountain Iron. They are now taking advantage of freebies and deals offered to people who are vaccinated.

MOUNTAIN IRON — Ann Lloyd and Kurt Engelmeier plan to leave a bit early today on a road trip to visit their son, a student at Iowa State University in Ames.

Their agenda includes taking a side trip more than 30 miles farther south for some doughnuts.

The couple has priorities, after all — one them being snagging free Krispy Kreme treats at a shop near Des Moines.

Now both fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after receiving their second Moderna brand shot on April 27 at Walmart in Mountain Iron, Lloyd and Engelmeier are making the rounds — hitting up places offering freebies and deals to people who present their COVID-19 vaccination record card.

Large chains such as Krispy Kreme, along with smaller businesses across the country, have been offering discounts and free things to people who have proof of being vaccinated against the virus.

Since March 22, Krispy Kreme has provided a free original glazed doughnut to guests who show a valid vaccination card. The deal runs through the remainder of the year.

It may be a bit of a drive for a free doughnut, Lloyd admitted. The nearest Krispy Kreme locations for Minnesotans are in Wisconsin and Iowa.

But she and her husband are adamant proponents of the vaccine after Engelmeier lost his 87-year-old father to COVID-19 in November. If freebies offer incentives to get the shot, bring in additional business for merchants and reward those who are vaccinated, then they are worthwhile, and people may as well take advantage of them, she noted.

“We are first going to head to Staples to laminate our cards,” Lloyd said by phone from the couple’s home in St. Paul earlier this week.

The national office supply company is offering complimentary lamination of COVID-19 vaccination cards. Office Depot and OfficeMax are doing the same through July 25 at stores nationwide, including Office Depot in Duluth.

“It’s a major thing. You need that card to show you’ve had the vaccine and you need to keep it in tiptop shape,” Lloyd said. Lamination protects the paper cards “so you’re not worried about them getting soiled,” making it easier “to keep on your person” in a wallet or purse, she said.

The couple also plans to head to a White Castle in their area for a complimentary slice of birthday cake on-a-stick, a menu item known to the chain’s fans as “dessert on-a-stick.” The offer started April 22 and runs through May 31.

Iron Rangers may have farther to go for some of the freebies, such as traveling to Hinckley for the White Castle deal, Lloyd said.

But, “as the weather gets nicer and we don’t have to worry about a snowstorm, it makes a nice Sunday drive to go to these places. It’s a fun way to get out and blow off some steam.”

Lloyd and Engelmeier took a drive of their own to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Once eligible for the inoculation at the end of March, the duo found the Mountain Iron pharmacy on an online vaccination finder website and decided to head north for their first shot.

“We could have had an appointment in the Twin Cities for our second shot, but we had a blast driving up for the first one. Everyone we met was super friendly.”

So, Lloyd and Engelmeier returned to complete the vaccination dose four weeks later, using the opportunity to meet with a friend in Hibbing. “We had fun driving around Hibbing.” They stopped at the SoHo Arts gallery and even picked up a Sammy’s pizza, she said. “It was a wonderful way to spend the day.”

Lloyd said she and her husband feel good knowing they are vaccinated. “We not only did something good for ourselves, but something good for everyone else,” she said, noting that being vaccinated protects against the spread of disease.

Unfortunately, she added, the vaccine’s release wasn’t soon enough to help keep her father-in-law safe. Cletus Engelmeier, of Finlayson, Minnesota, died the Saturday before Thanksgiving, after spending a few weeks hospitalized at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he was taken by ambulance.

The family’s main communication with him while he was fighting for his life was via Zoom video conferencing.

Cletus had a lot of life still to live, Lloyd said of the man who enjoyed attending meat raffles. “He had a lot more meat raffles in him.”

The family plans to have a celebration of his life when everyone is vaccinated. “Our family is all committed to getting vaccinated,” Lloyd said.

And she and Engelmeier will continue to look for ways to celebrate being vaccinated.

Swinging by Up-Down, a Minneapolis arcade featuring classic games such as Ms. Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Centipede, is also “on the list.” The arcade is giving fully vaccinated customers 20 free tokens through the end of the summer.

Lloyd said she additionally plans to visit her mom in New Ulm, Minnesota, for Mother’s Day now that she is completely vaccinated.

She and Engelmeier experienced sore arms at the sites of the shot and a few minor symptoms after their vaccinations. “A sore arm and fever is nothing” compared to suffering with the virus or losing a loved one to COVID, Lloyd said. “It is up to us as individuals to do the right thing for the greatest good.”

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