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Written by Sam Antenucci

My father is a universal donor, meaning he can donate his blood to anyone who needs it. He donated as frequently as he could, often donating plasma as well. He did this for years, up until he was diagnosed with cancer.

Knowing that blood can help burn-victims, transplant patients, those battling cancer etc., made me want to step up and take my father’s place on the donation table. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, making donations not just important but the difference between life and death.

Blood Drive at the Rayburn House Building Capitol Hill 2017

My first donation was in September of 2014 and I had some concerns going into my first blood drive. Like many other first-time donors, I didn’t like needles. I walked into a room bustling with nurses, donors and soft rock playing in the background. I was greeted by the warm faces of volunteers at the registration table and led to the back for a mini-physical where I answered a few general health questions and had my vitals taken. Once the physical was finished, I was on track to donate.

I laid down on the table as the nurse and I chatted away about being a first-time donor. She explained everything and tried to ease my fear of needles, reminding me that each donation goes to those in need. Before I knew it, the needle was in with a slight pinch and I was only ten minutes away from filling my first pint of blood! Between the music and the friendly staff, time zipped by and I was able to hop off the table and enjoy the refreshments waiting for donors afterwards. From there, my blood was sent to the blood donation center in Philadelphia for processing and testing.

Four years later, I’m still donating to this day, especially since blood supplies have been noticeably low during the summer months. To make matters worse, the number of Red Cross donors decreased each year, leaving many hospital’s supplies low, shelves empty and patients in dire need of transfusions. Now is better than ever to make the decision to save lives by donating blood.

3 livesBy taking 15 minutes out of your day to donate blood, you can save three lives and give patients a chance to keep fighting. You don’t need a special reason to give blood, just one that motivates you. Some donate because of friends, some do it because they believe it is the right thing to do, and there are some who do it for the free cookies. Regardless of the reason to give blood, I would like to offer advice for new-donor jitters – take pride in the good you are doing, relax with music or chat with the staff, and be prepared before you donate by eating a good meal with plenty of water. It is a rewarding experience that changes the lives of those in need.

 

To find more information on where you can donate, you can go to https://rdcrss.org/2ORL31P to find a blood drive near you.

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now to help address a winter blood donation shortage that could affect patient care.

Jan 2018 Urgent Need Blood Appeal_Hospitals

Here’s how you can help:

  1. #GiveNow: Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an urgent need for their help. New and current donors of all blood types are needed to help ensure the Red Cross can meet the needs of patients every day and is prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood.
  3. Bring a friend to donate with you.

You can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who rely on the generosity of volunteer donors. Please make an appointment to give blood or platelets now and help save lives.

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Volunteer Spotlight

By: Elizabeth McLaren

Agnes Han, a senior at Downingtown East High School, knows a thing or two about initiative. With aspirations to become a physician, Han wondered what she could do about the lack of high school clubs available to her that focused on health and wellness.

So she created her own, founding Downingtown East’s Red Cross Club during her junior year to explore her passions and “to get myself and others more involved in helping others medically.”Agnes Han 1

Her vision produced results. “We started with about five people, but over the course of year, it grew to around 25 people,” Han says. “Officers do most of the work. Our teacher advisor, Mrs. Resnek, helps us when we need it and lets us know when we can hold meetings. Other than that, the students pretty much run the show.”

Han currently serves as club president, and is part of a five-member team of officers including fellow students Jordan Guistwhite as vice president, Megan Osterstag as treasurer, Ian Goodstein as secretary and Kate Dippolito as head of fundraising.

The next order of club business for Han was volunteer training for Red Cross Blood Services with the Tri-County Chapter. She became a Blood Donor Ambassador. “A lot of it was fairly straightforward and things I could learn on the job. I met once or twice with Blood Services to review safety protocols and such,” she says.

Han started doing registration at blood drives after she completed training. “The first thing donors see is us – registration – and it’s my job to get them all signed in and ready to go with a smile on their face,” she adds.

Her first blood drive was also her most memorable. “It was the WMMR blood drive that Preston and Steve hosted. I remember feeling at ease and not at all awkward because all of the other volunteers were so friendly. The one volunteer who I got a chance to talk to a little bit, loved mascots and chased around the man in the Blood Drop costume, wanting to take a picture. She was hilarious,” Han recalls.

With college applications on her agenda these days, Han recognizes that both the Red Cross Club and her volunteer role have helped prepare her for the future. “The Red Cross has shown me the joy in helping others through medicine and I’m glad I joined because I was able to learn a lot about the process of giving blood and the mechanics behind the different types of blood,” she says.

The idea of the club continuing after she graduates is something Han loves. For now, Han said that she and the Red Cross Club members are busy setting up a fundraiser for hurricane relief. They are also hoping to host a blood drive in the spring.

Han has a bit of Red Cross volunteer inspiration of her own, too. She adds, “Get involved early and become an active volunteer! Help out with whatever you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”

Tuesday, the American Red Cross of Southeastern PA hosted its 30th annual Citizen of the Year breakfast. This year, we were thrilled to give the award to our friend and partner of many years Wawa CEO, Howard Stoeckel.

The Citizen of the Year Award honors an individual who has shown commitment and compassion to the entire community without regard to race, religion, gender, or status in times of need. Howard Stoeckel is the perfect recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award because of his commitment to his community and the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

While the Red Cross is dependent on the generosity of individual donors, our corporate partners are also essential to the success of our mission. Their sponsorship of fundraising events such as The Red Ball, the Red Cross Walk and Run, and our annual Red Cross Cup golf outing provides us with important resources for our work and maintains our profile in the community.

Mr. Stoeckel and Wawa helped the Red Cross meet its goals in another essential area: blood donation. Over the last eight years Wawa has hosted 584 American Red Cross Blood Drives, collecting more than 21,000 units of blood and helping to save approximately 65,000 lives across our region. Wawa’s efforts over the last year helped generate more than 4,700 units of blood being donated to the American Red Cross. Those 4,700 units of blood gave a second chance to more than 14,200 hospital patients across our region. Mr. Stoeckel supports his employees’ extraordinary gift to their community. He says, “Wawa’s long-standing partnership with the American Red Cross is one of the most meaningful ways we contribute to our communities.  We are so proud of our associates’ efforts to host blood drives throughout the year, to volunteer their time and to donate blood.”

Howard Stoeckel and the Wawa Corporation represent the epitome of corporate partnership and responsibility. Wawa employees and associates give back to their communities in a very elemental way. Mr. Stoeckel reminds them that one pint of blood can assist as many as three people. He writes, ” I am truly proud to say that at Wawa, our world is large one, filled with endless possibilities due to the caring nature of our associates and our customers.” His personal commitment to social responsibility influences others to act accordingly and give their time, energy and life’s blood to their community. His dedication and that of his employees yields spectacular results

Today we recognize Howard Stoeckel for all he does for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Please join me in thanking him and congratulating him as the 2012 American Red Cross Citizen of the Year.