DiDonato explained that Jefferson students are very well mannered and respectful toward her and the staff.
“I am fortunate that I run blood drives in schools where, for the most part, the students are very respectful to our staff and do not try to get away with anything when there isn’t an adult school representative at the drive,” said DiDonato.
She said the most exciting part of high school blood drives is watching so many people donate for the first time, watching the friendships and the kids supporting each other as they all go through the very same thing together- saving lives for the first time.
The day of the event, 60 students anxiously awaited their turns to donate blood. Jefferson’s blood drive was set up differently than all other schools in the county. The choir director, Casey Tomlinson, graciously provided her classroom for the use of the drive. The American Red Cross staff was partially set up in the choir room and the remaining staff was set up on a bus just a short walking distance from the nearest exit. The question and testing area, which determined if students were eligible to donate, was located in the classroom. Once each student passed, a student volunteer escorted him or her out to the bus where they were prepared by the nursing staff to donate. After the process was complete, they were escorted back into the choir room to sit in the “canteen” area to drink juice or water and eat snacks provided by the American Red Cross.
The true challenge in donating blood, especially for first time donors, was the anticipation.
Hanna Punkar, a senior at JAHS and first time donor, said, “Prior to donating I was really nervous because it was the first time I had donated.”
Tyler Gancos, a fellow classmate of Punkar’s agreed. “I must admit, I was really nervous about the needle,” he said. Despite their nerves, both Punkar and Gancos agreed that they felt accomplished afterwards, and that overall donating blood was a very positive experience.