JEFFERSON — Jefferson Area High School saved 180 lives on Nov. 1 by participating in the American Red Cross blood drive. Peggy Savarese, Jefferson’s school nurse, was in charge of the blood drive from 1991-2010. The American Red Cross efforts have not changed much but the students’ and staff’s outlook on it has.
“It has been a lot easier recruiting kids to sign up, and getting teachers to allow students out of class to donate,” said Savarese. “Also the scholarship that is offered to students has inspired more students to not only give blood, but to volunteer working the blood drive.”
The new school has made the blood drive less complicated. “The blood drive was initially always in the gym, creating an inconvenience to gym classes. Having a bigger school with more rooms, allowed it to become easier on the gym teachers,” Savarese said. “We’ve also increased our drives; we now have two drives per year instead of the one drive we once had which was in the winter and often canceled due to bad weather.”
Hosting a blood drive takes preparation and good advertisement. Tayler Johnston, a junior at JAHS, took part in the process. “We start preparing two weeks ahead of time. We have to recruit people to sign up in all of the time slots, and advertise by hanging up posters around the school,” said Johnston.
Many students are returning donors, but to those who are not it may seem intimidating.
Denise DiDonato, an American Red Cross representative, visited Jefferson prior to the event to educate students on the preparation needed before and during their donation. Education is a critical piece to the success of a blood drive.
“I am incredibly thankful that the administration allows me in ahead of time to speak to the students so they understand the need for blood, the blood donation process and what the ‘rules’ of donation are,” said DiDonato.