By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer
Did you know that American Red Cross provides about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply? These critical blood donations come from individuals in our community who donate their blood during blood drives.
Andrew Lazowski, a high school student at Bay Village, decided he would coordinate a drive to help support the critical need for donors through the Red Cross’s Leaders Save Lives Program. He knew about the critical need for blood donations and how necessary they are for patients in an emergency. Several of his family members have held drives in the past and one of his family members also lost a battle with acute leukemia. Blood donations can help cancer patients, trauma patients and individuals with certain disorders, just to name a few.
With the help of Melissa Weiss, a Red Cross account manager, Andrew planned a blood drive at the local police station. Andrew found the help invaluable, saying, “she explained the technology and business aspects for the drive and was always encouraging and willing to answer any questions. She helped me with the recruitment process and provided items for me to include in a first-time donor basket.”
Through the blood drive, Andrew was able to recruit several of his friends as first-time donors and teach them about the blood donation process. “For my blood drive, I focused on recruiting my high school friends and classmates, none of whom had ever donated before,” said Andrew. “They are all signed up again to donate at my second blood drive and I am thrilled to know that I am making a positive difference for those in need.“
Individuals are eligible to donate blood at age 17, and in some states, people can donate starting at 16 with parental consent. The drive resulted in a total of 30 pints donated, which ultimately helped members in their community. Additionally, Andrew was chosen as one of the winners of the Leaders Save Lives Program scholarship drawings. He plans to use the $1,000 scholarship towards furthering his education in biology and pre-med.
Why should you or a student you know consider hosting a blood drive? “I would tell others that hosting a blood drive is fun and a unique way to give back to the community,” Andrew said. “Students will learn about what goes on behind the scenes in a nonprofit organization and the importance of supporting local blood drives.”
Holding regular blood drives in our communities helps to ensure a strong blood supply throughout the year. If you or someone you know is a student looking to give back to their community, the summer program is open from now until Aug. 31, 2022. The Red Cross also will be holding drives throughout Northeast Ohio for individuals to stop in and donate blood. You can find an upcoming drive near you by visiting redcross.org/give-blood.
The Leaders Save Lives Program encourages community-minded high school and college students to host blood drives during their school breaks. It provides students an opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills and community service by recruiting classmates, friends and family to donate blood. The student who plans and hosts the blood drive is then eligible for a gift card valued up to $200 and is eligible to be entered to win a Red Cross scholarship if at least 25 pints of blood are donated.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross Volunteer