03/23/06 — High school students take active role in blood drives

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High school students take active role in blood drives

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on March 23, 2006 1:45 PM

Wayne County's high school students are doing more than just talking about serving their community. They are taking an active role in helping the American Red Cross save lives.

The schools hold two blood drives a year, said Samia Garner, blood services director of the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross.

She said that last year, the schools collected 843 units of blood. So far this year, they have collected 516 units, with several more blood drives scheduled.

"It is always amazing to see the participation at high school drives," Mrs. Garner said. "Folks are always quick to think of teenagers as ne'er-do-wells or lazy and self-centered. They would change their thoughts quickly if they could see these kids stepping up to give blood when asked."

At Charles B. Aycock High School, the Health Occupations Students of America plan the blood drive and help at the event. Brittany McGraph said they start planning by putting up posters in the school's hallways advertising the upcoming blood drive.

"For about a week, we sit at lunch and sign people up," she said. "Then, we make appointments."

The day of the blood drive, they go get students when it's their appointment time, stand with them while they give blood to reassure them and help them to the canteen and sit with them after they have given blood.

"It makes us feel good to do this because we get people to give blood, and they can see that it's really not that bad," Miss McGraph said. "And they can save three lives doing it. A lot of people freak out and think that it's a big deal, but it's really not."

"We do it to help out the Red Cross," added Morgan Davis. "Normally we have a lot of donors."

At Rosewood High School, Brooke Goff said the students hold blood drives "basically to save people's lives because you save three lives with one pint of blood."

Kristy Bridgers said the students plan the drive by making and putting up posters and signing up people during lunch hours. "Then we come to the drive and make sure it's all organized and everybody's ready to give."

She said the blood drives are good because "there's a lot of people right in our community who need blood. There's a lot of blood transfusions that are done here every day.

"When you get just a little needle stuck in you, it's so much help to everybody."

Miranda Potts noted that Rosewood won a traveling school award last year for its blood drives.

Mrs. Garner said that every year, the chapter presents an award to one of the high schools for outstanding achievement. It's a traveling award based on a percentage of eligible students in the 11th and 12th grades and how many units of blood are collected. The plaque remains at the winning school for a year.

As a thank you from the Red Cross, students who give blood at their high school drive receive a Blood Tour T-shirt that has all the participating schools listed on it.

Don Best, former blood services director and volunteer, explained that the chapter started having two blood drives a year at the high schools to get more students involved. "In the fall of the year, you get the ones who have turned 17 during the summer and in the spring, you're getting an addition group who have turned 17 during the fall and winter," he said. "About 20 percent of the school's eligible donors will give blood. Teachers and faculty also give blood at the high school drives."

Best said that all the high schools do a tremendous job. "And they have a big time doing it. They really enjoy it and have a lot of fun. There's a lot of camaraderie going on."

He said the Red Cross has been holding blood drives in the high schools for more than 15 years.

Mrs. Garner said that these are 17- and 18-year-old students who are setting an example not only for their peers, but for the public as well.

"I am constantly appealing to our donor base countywide on how important and vital it is that they take the time to donate blood, yet I still have blood drives that come in under goal," she said. "However, every single high school blood drive that I have been a part of has played to a full house.

"When asked to do the right thing, these kids are answering the call. Young people are the future of the American Red Cross blood services program and when I see repeat teenage donors at high school drives, I know they are beginning to understand the responsibility of ensuring that there is an adequate blood supply in our area for whoever needs it. I meet many adults at blood drives throughout the county who tell me that they began giving blood as teenagers during high school drives."