Dover Middle School EAST students see success at Red Cross blood drive
DOVER, Ark. — Most adults will tell you it’s difficult to find 25 people to commit to support an event. Daily schedules, unforeseen surprises and life in general can create obstacles to the best intentions. On Jan. 24, weeks of planning by three middle school girls, June Musgrove, Faith Johnson and Sarah Rainey, paid off by helping save lives with the American Red Cross. The event, an inaugural blood drive at Dover Middle School, resulted in 26 lifesaving donations.
“June, Faith and Sarah just did an amazing job,” said Red Cross Representative Brook Davis. “These young ladies were completely dedicated to the cause. They had a mission in mind, and they were devoted to seeing it through.”
To give blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent in Arkansas, and weigh 110 pounds. At this point, seventh graders June, Faith and Sarah (pictured left to right above) are too young to donate themselves.
That’s where the Red Cross Future Blood Donors program came in. Despite being unable to donate, students are given the opportunity and tools to organize their own blood drive, with the expectation that they will then recruit friends, family and community members to donate.
“It’s a ‘Heroes in Training’ program, a chance for young people, not old enough to donate, to see that they can make a difference,” said Davis. “Students who participate in the program can’t donate, but they can help save lives by recruiting people who can. We hope that gives them a sense of what they can do for their communities and patients in need.”
The Red Cross serves major statewide hospitals, including Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Many patients being treated there are the same age as Dover’s young blood drive coordinators.
“It was inspiring to see the girls realize that there were people their age that could be helped by this blood drive,” said Shawnna Bull, Dover Middle School’s EAST facilitator.
According to Bull, her students didn’t just aim to meet the blood drive goal, but to also inform the community. They began planning for the blood drive in early August 2013.
"The girls wanted to reach out to the community, and the blood drive was a great project to achieve their goal," she said. "As a matter of fact, one of the girls had a family member receive a blood transfusion within the last year, so this blood drive was a project that hit close to home."
And the girls did the legwork, Bull said, tracking down phone numbers, educating themselves on the process and getting the ball rolling on organizing the first blood drive in Dover Middle School’s history.
“June, Faith and Sarah really did the research and learned about donating blood, how it’s used and why it’s needed,” Bull said. “But they didn’t just approach this as a school project. Instead, it was planned as a community event. I’m so proud of them, because they wanted people to understand why blood donations are important.”
The drive came at a critical time for the Red Cross. Right now, blood is being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in. Winter weather and freezing temperatures forced the Red Cross to cancel more than 700 blood drives in January, resulting in about 25,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations.
“People can help patients in need, even if they can’t give blood,” said Marci Manley, spokesperson for the Red Cross Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region. “These students aren’t old enough to give, but they asked others to donate and told them why. The number one reason people say they haven’t donated blood is because they haven’t been asked.”
Blood products can help treat patients undergoing chemotherapy, traumatic accident victims, premature babies and people with blood disorders. There is currently a need for all donors to restock supplies – especially those who have blood types O negative or positive, A negative and B negative.
“Like an emergency room, the Red Cross has to be ready to respond to patient needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Manley said. “The blood already on the shelves is what is going to help when there’s a need. We don’t want any patient to have to wait for a lifesaving blood product, but we need the community’s help to get blood to patients whenever and wherever it is needed.”
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.