BROCKWAY — The gymnasium at Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School got a quick makeover with tables, chairs, and padded beds with lots of needles and bags when the American Red Cross came rolling in to draw blood.
“We donated 28 units of blood,” Jonell Volpe, a Brockway teacher and the coordinator for the Blood Drive said. “We reached our goal for the day.”
Volpe coordinated a group of students who canvassed the school, scheduling teachers and students for the drive. On the day of the event, those students had jobs in the gymnasium.
“We walked people from the beds to the table where the food was,” senior Matthew Clark said. “We got them food or juice. We also made sure they got back to class okay.”
Clark worked with fellow students Paige Kalgren, Emily Sickeri, Virginia Snyder, Bryce Grecco, Weston Hrin, Zane Puhala, and Madison Barefield to keep an eye on donors. When giving blood, a donor can become lightheaded or dizzy. The volunteers made sure that no one got hurt during the Blood Drive.
“I don’t think we had anyone faint, but we had two students do a double donation,” Clark added.
The drive also had a few first-time donors, like sophomore Natalie Thompson.
“It wasn’t bad,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t nervous because needles don’t scare me. I could see where some people say it hurts, but it didn’t for me. The guy doing it was funny. He made jokes all the time, so that made it easy.”
Some students discovered that donating blood was not as easy as showing up and filling out a questionnaire. Many students found that they were too small to donate. Others found that they were low on iron, which is an easy problem to fix if you plan ahead.
“This is my third time being at a blood drive,” junior Salem Murray said. “The first time, they didn’t let me do it. My iron levels were too low. I had a very nice lady, and she said sometimes, the second time is better. She pricked me again and again, and each time was lower than the first!”
Murray found that switching up her diet a bit before donating worked out the iron issue.
“Since that was my first time, I didn’t prepare,” she said. “The next time, I looked it up and ate the right foods for it.”
The donors at Brockway are glad to help out because they see the importance of giving blood. Recently, the Red Cross issued a public call for donations after falling short in January. However, Brockway is seeing the same thing as the Red Cross — a marked decrease in donors.
“I appreciate everyone who signs up to donate since it is such a worthy cause,” Volpe said. “I am disappointed that, over the last five years, our numbers have declined. In the past, between the two drives, we had double the number of donors.”
While Brockway is seeing fewer donors, the ones who come are eager to try to make up the shortage. Murray plans to donate at the next Brockway blood drive.
“I do it mainly because there’s the idea of helping someone,” she said. “I mean, my blood could be anywhere helping someone! That’s pretty cool.”
The next two Red Cross Blood Drives in the area will be on March 15 at Ridgeway Central Hose Company and March 25 at Penn State University — DuBois Campus. The Red Cross is coming back to Brockway on April 9 at the Brockwayville Depot.