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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

Student council, American Red Cross coordinate blood drive amidst shortage

Student+council%2C+American+Red+Cross+coordinate+blood+drive+amidst+shortage
Madeline Petrick

The American Red Cross declared an emergency blood shortage earlier this year, stating that the U.S. is at a 20-year shortage of blood. On March 7, students and staff will have the opportunity to help lessen that shortage.

The student council is organizing a blood drive with the Red Cross that will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the aux gym on March 7. Students will be able to sign up on Wednesdays starting next week during lunch or by visiting redcross.org and using the code “GEHS” to sign up online.  

“My hope for this year’s blood drive is to really set a high bar for the number of donors that we have,” student council sponsor Sierra Arnold said. “Also to have students that are knowledgeable on the benefit that they could have. I hope they choose to make the decision to  not just be a donor for this blood drive but their entire life.”

The student council’s goal is to have at least 50 donors, about 6% of the student population. The goal isn’t higher because of the restrictions on who can donate.

“Our goal is to collect 30 good pints of blood,” Red Cross manager Teri Vitallo said. “In order to do that, we’re going to need about 50 to 60 people signed up. Your goal [at Gretna East] is a little bit lower than what another high school might be because you don’t have the seniors.”

Because the school’s donor pool is smaller, the Student Council and the Red Cross are hopeful to get 16-year-olds to donate as well. Students 17 and above can donate without a parental consent form, but students who are 16 years old need a signed parental consent form. They can collect the form during lunch from the sign-up table. All consent forms should be given to Arnold once completed. Students 15 and younger are ineligible. 

“For anyone that’s under the age of 18, we have really strict guidelines on who can donate and the reason why is because you guys are the future of the donor base,” Vitallo said. “We need to make sure that you have a really good first-time experience so that you want to donate for the rest of your life and you want to encourage other people to as well.”

In addition to age requirements, the Red Cross has certain height and weight requirements for blood donation. They also have restrictions on medications and antibiotics. These are to ensure the health and safety of the donor. 

“Of course, people will be like ‘no way I’m scared of needles,’ that’s fine,” Vitallo said. “However, what I always try to do is think of Children’s Hospital that I drive by all the time. They say seven out of 10 patients will need some type of blood product when they’re in the hospital. Those little kids are getting poked and prodded, if they can do it, I can do it.”

Every two seconds someone needs blood or platelets in the U.S., according to the American Red Cross

“The need for blood is dire right now,” Vitallo said. “For instance, a hospital might order six bags of O negative they might get two, so it’s perfect timing that you guys are doing this.”

Encouragement and information are the main focuses of the student council, especially during this blood shortage. But the student council will also be helping on the day of the blood drive, such as checking donors in and escorting them to ensure that they are safe after giving blood. 

“I think our role in the blood drive is to have people be informed about it and also to raise awareness for why you should donate blood,” student council member Layla Ramsey said. “We’re trying to get more people to donate.”

Donating can be intimidating to some, but Vitallo says it is a simple process, made to be easier for first-time donors. 

​​”If you were to pinch the back of your arm that’s what it feels like when the needle goes in, but then you don’t feel it,” Vitallo said. “The actual donation process takes anywhere from four to seven minutes. But the whole process of donating takes about an hour for high school students because we want to go nice and slow and explain everything. We want to make sure you have a good experience.”

The student council is working with administration to see if they would be willing to open the drive to the community as well. 

As preparations and outreach ramp up for the student council, their goal remains the same; help save lives.

 

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About the Contributor
Madeline Petrick, Editor-in-chief
Madeline Petrick, otherwise known as Madie, is a sophomore at GEHS. She was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High last year. This year she is the GEHS Wingspan's Editor-in-chief. Madie has wanted to be a journalist since she was in fourth grade. She loves finding stories to tell and sharing her creativity with the world. As a freshman, Madie won first place for entertainment review writing at the NSAA High School State Journalism championships for Class A. Outside of the journalism world, she devotes her time to writing, swimming and being involved at school. She has swam competitively for the past nine years and continues to swim for the Gretna Swim team which is the joined swim team of GEHS and GHS. Along with journalism and swimming, Madie is a member of the Student Council. She also enjoys spending time with her friends, her dogs and blasting music, mostly Taylor Swift.  This year she won a Best of SNO award for her story "Gretna family, non-profit, inspired by personal experience, create beacon of hope."  
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