Student initiative encourages classmates to donate blood

Lauren Meier, a health science teacher at Elizabethton High School, said the Health Occupation Students of America normally host around two blood drives a year. Now they are increasing the number to three, starting with next weekend’s blood drive.

“If students donate three times, they get a special cord,” Meier said.

This cord represents a different approach the students are taking to encourage fellow classmates to donate. Cords high school graduates wear are typically reserved for membership in elite clubs such as Key Club or student government.

“We do not need the cord,” senior Hannah Williams said. “It is good just to know you are giving blood to someone along the lines of helping people.”

The cord does represent an added incentive, however, encouraging students to begin the habit and appreciation of donating at an earlier age.

“For some students, this is their only [cord-worthy] achievement,” Meier said.

She said each donation carries weight.

“Teenagers give a large percentage of blood,” Meier said. “One donation saves up to six lives.”

Encouraging students to donate blood comes with additional challenges, such as educating them on the importance of donating in the first place.

“Some fear that it will make them feel sick or pass out,” she said. “Some might not be able to donate blood.”

One additional requirement that is less relevant for adults is weight. Meier said donors must weigh at least 110 pounds for them to donate, because donations are always a pint of blood.

In spite of these concerns, Williams said donating blood is a vital part of community service.

“For the students, they are able to see us helping the community,” she said. “I donate blood to know I am saving someone’s life.”

Meier said their next blood drive, November 22, is also open to the community to participate in as well.

“We want to encourage and support them,” Meier said. “They can go in with friends.”

She said donors must be at least 17 in order to donate, and they cannot have given blood within the last six weeks.

She said the blood drive is done by Marsh and will take place at the high school, located at 907 Jason Witten Way in Elizabethton, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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