Last Thursday, Jan. 24, the American Red Cross Club held its annual January Blood Drive. Tech sponsors for the event included Mobilizing Opportunity for Volunteer Experience (MOVE), the American Red Cross Club and Delta Sigma Phi.
According to Red Cross Recruitment Operations Manager Zelle Chandler, the blood drive was a success. Every year, Tech donates more than any other institution of higher learning in Metro Atlanta. On Thursday alone, 377 pints of blood were collected.
The campus blood drive is not a singular event. The Red Cross holds five blood drives during the year, which are typically in August, October, January, April and June. Each drive lasts three days apiece, except for the one in June, which lasts two days. Tech’s Red Cross Club, MOVE, Delta Sigma Phi and Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) all host these events. Members of Delta Sigma Phi assist with the January and June blood drives while FIJI helps out with the other three.
Since Tech’s blood drive includes many donors, the event requires much preparation by many individuals. Colleges and high schools alone are significant donors to national blood drive events, contributing a fifth of all blood collected. Tech is especially important in the service, according to Chandler.
“Tech is kind enough to host [the Red Cross] in a very critical time in [its] business,” Chandler said. The need for blood donations is greatest during the winter and summer months, mainly because of the absence of high school donors who might be on break or vacation.
With two weeks’ worth of blood drives on campus and a large number of donors in general, Tech completes its role in service of blood drives and donations.
The preparation for these events is both critical and arduous.
“One of the biggest things is getting a room reservation. With the drive just last week, we tried to reserve the room back in November,” said Sochetra Kong, a fourth year BME and Tech’s Red Cross Club’s Blood Drive Chairman. According to Kong, they sometimes try to make reservations six months in advance just to guarantee a spot.
While volunteers were plenty among the several organizations for the January blood drive, there were many responsibilities. A key component of preparation included the advertisement and raising awareness of the blood drive. The ads go up about a month before the event, and the fraternities are essential to this process.
For the most recent blood drive, Delta Sigma Phi put up a banner and began distributing flyers to people on campus. Not only do they reserve space for a banner on Skiles, they also put one up at their fraternity house. The blood drive sponsors also try to send out campus-wide e-mails from the office of the Dean of Students.
With such heavy advertising, the sponsors are sure to increase the level of awareness on campus about the blood drive; however, these endeavors are only the preparations. The actual execution of the blood drive is still more work.
Nate Watkins, a third-year Economics major and a brother of Delta Sigma Phi, undertakes many of the tasks involved with the blood drive. He works intensively on both the preparations and the implementation of the blood drive.
Watkins’ work at the blood drive is primarily to coordinate all the volunteers. As previously mentioned, Tech students donate a large amount of blood, and with all the donors more volunteers are required to help effectuate the flow of the event. Many Red Cross representatives are at the blood drive, notably some nurses. Watkins explained that the nurses need a great deal of help not only in getting the blood but in making sure that donors are in a suitable condition after blood is drawn.
An interesting approach to caretaking of the donors includes the Canteen. The Canteen is a place of relaxation and revitalization that donors go to after donating. It has a place to rest, socialize with other donors, and even consume some juice and cookies. Donors are advised to stay about ten minutes after donating to make sure that any adverse effects are noticed and handled by nurses and the other sponsors.
Donors themselves can do a great deal to prepare. First, they can register online to make the event go more smoothly. The advertisements direct where the potential donor can go to register, and since the ads come out a month in advance, people have ample time to register. Another way to help make the process smoother is for potential donors to eat foods rich in iron and vitamin C and to drink plenty of water. Chandler, Kong and Watkins all stressed the importance of donors to stay well nourished so that negative effects of donating do not kick in as harshly.
“[Potential donors] can be patient. Sometimes there’s a wait of an hour and a half. They need to be prepared for those wait times,” Watkins said.
For those present at the blood drive, everyone saw how busy the event was in a limited amount of space. Chandler claimed that blood drives have gotten so big at Tech that there usually is not enough room.Kong explained that the Student Center Ballroom is ideal, but sometimes they have to situate the event at the Student Success Center because of issues in reservations.
Since so much work goes into the blood drives by all these sponsors and volunteers, Tech repeatedly gives a significant amount of blood in the Atlanta community.
“They do an excellent job at recruiting and getting donors to participate,” Chandler said. Even though the sponsors do an excellent job of coordinating and carrying out the event, people are free to volunteer and get involved in the blood drives.
For more information, you can go to MOVE’s office in Room 141 in the Student Services (Flag) Building, contact the Red Cross Club at [email protected] or go to http://www.redcross.org/donate/give/ to learn more about the American Red Cross.