The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas’ Holiday Heroes challenge program is in full swing until Jan. 5.
That means students are busy organizing blood drives for the CBCC. The challenge is to collect the most units of blood during a drive; the student who collects the most will win a $1,000 scholarship.
“Holiday Heroes is a win-win for both students and our community,” says CBCC Community Development Coordinator Adam Eberhart.
Students of any age attending a secondary school are eligible to organize drives. CBCC donor recruiters team with students to help with logistics and publicity.
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The students recruit friends, family, neighbors and anyone willing to donate. Most get the word out through social media, but Eberhart said posters still are a mainstay for drives.
“It’s simply the ‘ask’ – getting in front of the congregation or club and asking for support – that is the key to a successful blood drive,” Eberhart said.
Students are required to collect at least 25 pints of blood, but competition is stiff. The winner in CBCC’s Students Saving Summer blood drive, a similar program run from June through September, collected 116 pints. Because the summer drive is longer, CBCC provides scholarships for the top five students in that program.
Many participants either are interested in or currently pursuing a degree in a medical field; however, that is not a requirement. Scholarships are paid directly to the winner’s school or held for high school students to be used once they commit to a college.
CBCC Marketing and Recruitment Manager Constance Flynt said that since 2009, students have hosted 333 blood drives, collecting 8,052 units of blood.
Eberhart said the CBCC differs from the American Red Cross in that the blood CBCC gathers stays in the region; blood gathered by the Red Cross may be shipped anywhere in the U.S.
CBCC primarily supplies blood to patients and hospitals in 19 North Carolina counties that surround Charlotte and three in South Carolina. Local hospitals that benefit include all Carolinas Medical Center hospitals and the Levine Children’s Hospital.
“If we didn’t have these students, we would be in dire need of blood,” Eberhart said. “They provide almost 25 percent of all the blood we collect each year, both by hosting blood drives and donating blood themselves through blood drives at high schools, Greek organizations and clubs.
“In return, we want to help these students further their educations.”