Students in the Red Cross Club Organize the Community Event
March 15, 2023
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville High School’s Red Cross Club collected 51 units of donated blood from community members in February, one of the largest totals in recent years.
“This is the biggest number I’ve seen since becoming the club’s adviser,” said teacher Sue Kanagawa, who began advising the club in 2017. “It’s amazing to see such community support for this important project.”
To put this year’s number in perspective, the club collected 47 units of blood in 2022, 25 units of blood in 2020, and 23 units of blood in 2019. A blood drive was not held in 2021 because of COVID-19.
Each unit of blood can be used by up to three patients, meaning this year’s donations could help as many as 153 individuals, according to the American Red Cross New Jersey Region.
Robbinsville’s Red Cross Club is one of the largest student organizations at the high school with about 90 members. They worked to plan, promote and manage a recent blood drive, while technicians from the American Red Cross set up stations and administered the blood donations. Students also served snacks to donors, including bagels donated by Bagels n’ Cream on Washington Boulevard.
For Sahana Prasad, a Robbinsville junior, volunteering for the club teaches her about the crucial role that blood drives play in keeping a stable supply.
“There’s really no substitute for blood and everyone has to do their part in helping others around the world,” said Prasad, the club’s secretary.
Someone in the United States requires additional blood or platelets every two seconds, which translates to a daily demand of 29,000 units of red blood cells, nearly 5,000 units of platelets and 6,500 units of plasma, according to the American Red Cross.
That urgency is what drove Suhani Agarwal to volunteer for the club, as well. The Robbinsville junior greeted donors at the door and helped ensure they had required documentation, among other duties.
Agarwal, Red Cross Club’s vice president, said serving others is a value that has long been instilled in her at home. Indeed, her mom was among those who donated blood.
“It makes me feel really nice to give back to my community,” Agarwal said. “It was great to have someone in my family donate. It was also nice to see how many people in our community who want to help.”
American Red Cross New Jersey Region CEO Rosie Taravella thanked students, staff and the Robbinsville community for their blood donations, noting the vast disparity between how many people need blood and the number of people who donate.
Robbinsville’s donations, Taravella said, will help bridge that gap.
“The need for blood is constant, and the students and staff at Robbinsville High School can be counted on to roll up a sleeve to help meet the need,” Taravella said. “One in seven patients entering a hospital will need a blood transfusion, but at the same time, only about three percent of Americans give blood. The American Red Cross is proud of the work the Robbinsville Red Cross Club puts into organizing blood drives and grateful for the humanitarian spirit exhibited at the school.”
Red Cross Club members promoted the blood drive with posters, social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth, especially in conversations between students and their parents, according to Shrika Yeddula, the club’s co-president.
“It’s a club that really opens up high schoolers to the world of volunteering; it is important to get involved in something that has greater purpose and could help other people,” said Yeddula, a senior who has been in the club for three years.
In addition to the blood drive, Red Cross Club collects food for military families, sends holiday cards to military personnel and hosts bake sales each year in support of the American Red Cross. The club also has raised money to fight wildfires and educate children about COVID-19 hygiene.
Abinaya Dharanikumar, the club’s treasurer, said she especially enjoys writing holiday cards to members of the armed forces. The club typically sends between 200 and 300 cards each year with messages that express gratitude to the recipients for their service.
“Everyone loves doing these cards,” said Dharanikumar, a senior who has been in the club since her freshman year. “For me personally I like making the cards because it is a way to show how much we appreciate them. Everyone feels the same way.”
How to Donate Blood
Download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Red Cross Club members.
Red Cross Club executive members.
Visitors prepare to donate blood after student volunteers checked their IDs
Red Cross Club student volunteers at the blood drive.
Red Cross Club student volunteers at the blood drive.