Around the time that Sam, shown here, was first entering high school, his grandfather experienced a car accident. Over the course of several surgeries during the ensuing recovery, Sam’s grandfather needed multiple blood transfusions. Months later, when The Community Blood Center held a blood drive at his school, the cause-and-effect reality of blood donation wasn’t lost on Sam.
“I just realized that there are real-world people with real-world problems who need this blood,” he remembers. “So if people like me, or my friends in school, aren’t there to donate, that blood might not be there when they need it.”
Fortunately, when it comes to high school students making a difference through blood donation, Sam is far from alone. High school donors provide as much as 10% of CBC’s overall donor base, and during the 2018-19 school year, there were nearly 4,300 blood donations made by students at their high school blood drives. This doesn’t even account for the blood and platelet donations made at our donor centers, and already accounts for potential to positively affect almost 13,000 patients in need.
The first of these is called Gallon Grad, and asks students to get involved in their high school blood drives in one of four ways: donating blood, recruiting new blood donors, volunteering at their high school blood drive, or hosting a blood drive themselves. When a student has completed two of the four criteria (or the “recruit” or “host” items twice) and has logged their achievements in the all-new Gallon Grad portal, they have achieved Gallon Grad status. (More information can be found about this program here.)
CBC is also invested in the futures of high school blood donors, and for this reason, we offer more than $30,000 annually as part of our High School Scholarship Program. Students complete an application and project that encapsulates their connection to blood donation, and winners are chosen by their school scholarship committee based on criteria including creativity, leadership and participation in their school blood drive program. During the 2018-19 school year, CBC awarded scholarships to 35 students representing 24 area high schools. (More information regarding the scholarship program can be found here.)
For his part, Sam was proud to achieve both the Gallon Grad award and to receive a scholarship from CBC, which he believes will serve him well in his blossoming college career.
“I’m planning to continue donating as I enter college, absolutely,” he explains. “I know I’ll keep donating for my whole life, and keep giving back in that respect.”
As he begins college, he also believes that the students who once looked to him for leadership will now become the leaders themselves. Still, he has one piece of advice for those who now take the torch from him.
“If you see a need, don’t be afraid to step up and take charge,” Sam says. “If this is something you are passionate about, as I am, just get involved and encourage others to donate. You absolutely won’t regret it.”