Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. But up until the late 1940s few hospitals had blood banks. Many relied on direct transfusion from donor to patient. In 1947, the Red Cross started to change this with the introduction of the first national civilian blood program, the largest peacetime health project undertaken by the organization.
A few years prior to this, during World War II, with England facing possible invasion, the U.S. military asked the Red Cross to create and operate a national blood donor program. They saw the need for massive quantities of blood for both the military and civilians and asked the Red Cross to collect blood for shipment to the British Isles. To help in this effort, the first bloodmobile visited the Farmingdale, New York, Red Cross Chapter on March 10, 1941. Out of this initial partnership, American Red Cross Blood Services was born.
Students became involved for the first time in a war effort in 1898, when they helped provide medical support and comfort to American soldiers and their families during and after the Spanish-American War.
The American Junior Red Cross was created during World War I. Students knit scarves, rolled bandages and built furniture for hospitals and nursing homes. They worked in Victory Gardens (vegetable gardens that added to the nation's food supply) and raised money. In fact, Junior Red Cross members contributed an incredible $3,677,380 to the Red Cross during the war.
Today, high school and college students provide about 20% of blood donations. A common way for students to donate is by participating in or hosting a blood drive. Blood drives are a way for you as a student to participate in a community service project that saves lives, provides leadership opportunities and promotes teamwork.
The Red Cross highly values the opportunity to work with thousands of students each year who serve as a vital part of our lifesaving mission. Whether you are a frequent blood donor, volunteering to host a blood drive or helping in another capacity to assist with blood donation, you are making a difference by giving someone else a chance at a longer, happier life. That is amazing!
Additionally, there are numerous articles and studies that show that volunteering can give you a leg up when looking for a job. This includes learning new skills, making new professional contacts and helping fill in your resume.
But, ultimately, by donating or helping others to donate, you are potentially saving a life, something that isn’t lost on Paige Phillips from Kenly, North Carolina:
“If you have the time and capability to host a blood drive, do it. The feeling you get when you get the results back and see the number of lives that could be saved due to your help is indescribable. Once you feel that, you’ll want to be able to do whatever you can to feel that way again.”
So in whatever capacity you choose to help, thank you for helping to save lives!