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Youth basketball team to host Red Cross blood drive in commemoration of Black History Month

Heart of America

February 10, 2014

PEORIA, Ill. (Feb. 10, 2014) – To celebrate Black History Month this February, the American Red Cross is teaming up with the Peoria Journey to Empowerment through Motivation and Self-Esteem (JEMS) girls’ youth basketball team. The powerhouse pair is partnering for a Feb. 22 blood drive to help ensure a stable and diverse blood supply for patients in need.

Since the members of the JEMS basketball team aren’t old enough to donate themselves, they are looking to have an impact in the community by recruiting blood donors to help save lives. This is an event where everyone wins, especially patients and their families.

“Hosting and organizing a blood drive is terrific way for the JEMS to enhance their teamwork skills outside of the basketball court,” said Jonelle McCloud, JEMS president and founder. “Not only is the JEMS program intended to teach the game of basketball, but it also empowers area youth with the skills to give back to the community and make a difference. And our blood drives are a great way to accomplish this.”

JEMS girls’ basketball blood drive

Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Proctor Recreation Center, 309 S. DuSable Street, Peoria, Ill.

All patients are matched by blood type prior to transfusion. It’s important that lifesaving blood donors are as diverse as the hospital patients who receive blood donations. Patients are less likely to have complications and more likely to find a match from blood donated by someone with the same ethnicity.

Certain blood types are more common in some ethnic groups than others. For instance, about 70 percent of African-Americans have type O or B blood, the types that are typically the first to run out during a shortage. Additionally, sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the United States, most of them African-American. Since the disease is often managed through regular blood transfusions, African-American blood donors can provide blood that is a closer match for patients with sickle cell disease.

The Red Cross needs blood donors to help restock the shelves in February after severe winter weather across much of the country last month forced the cancellation of 770 blood drives, resulting in more than 25,000 uncollected donations. Donors with all blood types are needed, especially O negative, O positive, B negative and A negative.

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit 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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossBloodHA.

About JEMS

The Journey to Empowerment through Motivation and Self-Esteem (JEMS.) program seeks to motivate area youth to actively engage in the positive aspects of team sports. By empowering them with the skills and knowledge to develop and grow as individuals, JEMS will strengthen their abilities and build their awareness of themselves and their community. For more information, visit