The school’s community service program provides countless opportunities for students to give to those in need, include programs with partnerships in Open Hand, Trees Atlanta, and more. Recently, however, Westminster students and faculty alike were able to help out on an even more personal level. The Red Cross Blood Drive, a volunteer event that takes place on campus every semester, served as a way for the community to meet the ever-present need for blood.
Westminster began its partnership with the Red Cross back in the 1980s.
The school sponsors two blood drives each year, one in the fall and one in the spring, with the goal of collecting 50 pints of blood at every drive. The spring drive, which took place this year on Fri. April 13, always poses a challenge in terms of collecting the 50 pints.
“The spring one is a little bit harder sometimes because we have a lot of students travelling during this time due to spring break, which makes them ineligible to give blood,” said Community Service Coordinator Stand Moor. “Plus we loose a lot of athletes. It’s a little more challenging than the fall one, but we try to make all of them special.”
Although many would-be donors were ineligible to donate during the recent drive, other students were able to fill the potential void.
“I know that, even though the Red Cross is a well-known cause, a lot of people either can’t or don’t give blood, and since I’m not bothered by it, I figure it’s the least I can do,” said senior Neena Molavi. “Giving blood was a really rewarding experience; even though I couldn’t actually see my blood helping someone, I know how necessary that is.”
In terms of participation by grade, the sophomore class gave the most blood with 22 registered donors. This was particularly impressive because the sophomores, all just turning or having recently turned 16, represented the first-time donors who, having just reached the minimum age to donate, are new to the process and do not fully know what kind of experience they should anticipate.
“I signed up for the blood drive on an impulse,” said sophomore Jessica Grimes. “The date of the donation initially seemed far off, but I found myself getting more nervous as the date approached. I had never had blood drawn or anything, so I really had no idea what to expect.”
As giving blood can sometimes seem like a daunting experience, The Red Cross personnel and PAWS volunteers work hard to make sure all donors feel comfortable and at ease, while also creating an enjoyable atmosphere.
“The actual drive was pretty low key; the Red Cross personnel were very engaging and I was way more comfortable than I had expected,” said Grimes. “I had been most worried about the insertion of the needle, but it was very fast and hurt no worse than the finger prick. There was a great selection of food afterwards, and though I felt a little off, it was still probably the highlight of my experience.”
For all of the donors, no matter what age, the blood drive offered an opportunity to connect with the community. The entire process, from the initial nerves to the sweet juice and cookies after donating, acted as an experience that unified people together in a way not all service projects can.
“This was my second time giving blood at Westminster’s Blood Drive and I’m not going to lie, I dread it because needles and I don’t get along too well. But both times, after I finished, I remembered that I helped three hospitalized people in a way that only the gift of my blood can” said senior Mary Brass. “It’s also fun to meet people while you’re giving blood. Because it’s a community-wide drive, there are parents, students and faculty all waiting in the same area before and after giving. It’s fun to meet new people while you’re there, united by the red bandage wrapped around your elbow. Also, I always thoroughly enjoy the cookies at the end.”
Although Westminster’s goal of 54 pints was achieved, the Red Cross is in constant need of blood. The donors who participated in the recent drive encourage others to sign up for the next event.
“This was the third time I’ve given blood, and even though they don’t have Nutter-Butters anymore, I’m still excited for the next time,” said senior Tommy Fitzgerald. “It’s a rewarding experience, and anyone can do it.”
“We hope that all of the donors are starting out on a lifelong journey of giving blood that they will continue.” Said Moor.