By Morgan Smith
It’s the help from local students that ensures the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas is stocked with blood during the summer months.
The local nonprofit blood center, which is the primary blood supplier to 21 regional hospitals, always sees a drop in blood donations through the summer months when schools let out. That’s why five years ago, the organization decided to kick off a new initiative to keep students involved year round, with the Students Saving Summer Scholarship program.
“Twenty percent of the nation’s blood supply comes from students, so in the summer, we lose those high school and college students,” Meredith Mauldin, a CBCC sponsorship developer, said. “We have this opportunity for students so they can help us fill the gap.”
The program started June 1 and runs through Sept. 30, and gives students the chance to host their own blood drives to compete for five $1,000 college scholarships. Last year, 53 students held blood drives, collecting more than 1,200 units of blood. Since 2009, CBCC also has awarded $88,500 in scholarships. Each participating student is paired with a CBCC representative, like Mauldin, who provides assistance in planning the drive.
Maudlin recently helped Queens University of Charlotte rising junior and Indian Trail resident Katie Steeb host her first blood drive June 30 at Blessed Assurance Adult Day Care in Mint Hill.
Steeb first learned of CBCC through blood drives held on the Queens University campus and information given at her church, MorningStar Lutheran Church. She said blood drives through CBCC really spiked her interest since the blood stays close to home.
“When I was in high school, they always did blood drives every semester and I tried to give blood as much as possible,” Steeb said. “I hadn’t really even thought that hosting my own blood drive could even be a thing. When I found out it was possible, I was definitely really interested and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Katie contacted the nonprofit Blessed Assurance to help coordinate the blood drive to not only help spread the word about CBCC and their need for blood, but also to raise awareness for the nonprofit adult day care. She said the most challenging part about planning the drive was coordinating times and schedules between herself, CBCC and Blessed Assurance. Though she describes herself as “a planner at heart,” learning to work with others was definitely a challenge, she said.
“The (chance to earn a) scholarship is great, but it’s also a great learning experience,” Steeb said, adding that she also learned relational skills through the process. “Not only is it a blood drive, but it’s also about community building, to learn about” the organizations involved, adding she didn’t know anything about Blessed Assurance until this experience.
Steeb collected about 20 units of blood at her drive, though collections were still coming in after press deadline. She hopes to host a second drive in September before the program deadline.
Maudlin said student-led blood drives are important to instill the idea of giving blood in students at a young age. While there are many misconceptions about giving blood, Maudlin said raising awareness on how drives really work helps break misconceptions and opens the doors for more people to give blood.
“I honestly believe that when people give blood early in life, they are able to see from that point on how important it is and can become lifelong donors,” Maudlin said. “I hear excuses all the time. That’s why I think it’s really important for young students to get involved now.”
For more information about the Students Saving Summer Scholarship program, visit www.cbcc.us or call Kim Jones at 704-972-4727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.