There were signs pointing to the auxiliary gym, where pop music filled the air. In the center of the room stood a long table of chips and Gatorade. Students smiled on their way out.
This was a blood drive, organized and run by a group of students in the Leadership Through Service (LTS) class as the project they chose for class.
Senior Domenica Dolcimascolo, one of the LTS students running the event, said she was surprised by the turnout.
“We had a lot of people sign up, and there have been a lot of walk-ins, too, so it’s a really good turnout,” she said.
Thirty-five people, most of them students, signed up to give blood, and around halfway through the event, several more people had already come for a walk-in appointment.
For many students, it was their first time donating blood.
As she waited to start the screening procedure, senior Alondra Grimaldo said she felt “anxious and nervous because I don’t like needles at all.”
Still, she chose to donate blood because she “felt like it was a good cause.”
These emotions were echoed by many of the students giving blood, who were nervous but doing it because they wanted to help others.
As she sat waiting for her turn, senior Mariana Sanchez said she felt “kind of nervous.” Even though she said she felt nervous being able to see the needle, she said, “I’m probably going to look at it just because I want to go into the medical field, and plus, it’s really cool.”
Some people were surprised by how easy and painless the experience was.
“I was more surprised how it just didn’t hurt,” sophomore David Sanchez said. “I would recommend more people to do it.”
Even EGHS alumni came to support the event. Aidan Cloherty, who graduated in 2013, said he was “very scared” about the amount of blood he’d give, but he was moved to come donate after hearing his friend tell a story about how the national blood shortage affects people.
Cloherty’s friend works as a trauma nurse, and she told him that throughout the pandemic, when there were fewer blood donations, hospitals had to decrease the amount of blood they were allowed to give each patient. There was a particular patient Cloherty heard of from his friend who was wounded but couldn’t receive as much blood as they actually needed, so they didn’t heal as quickly as they should have been able to.
“It wasn’t the nurse’s fault,” Cloherty explained. “It was the rules of what the hospitals have to deal with now because there’s so much less donated blood. It’s kind of sad.”
He said hearing that story inspired him to donate blood. Knowing that his dad has been donating blood every eight weeks for decades made the decision easier.
In planning the event, EGHS students were also moved to address the blood shortage.
“Mr. Bush actually suggested this to our group. We had a couple of different options, and this one just really stuck out because there’s a national blood shortage, so people are in need, and it’s good to give back,” Dolcimascolo said.
Senior Hannah Gryzik, who also helped run the event, explained the LTS group’s process in organizing it. First, they contacted the donation company, Vitalant, and finalized timing and other details. Then, Gryzik explained, they spread the word.
“I think the hardest part definitely was getting the word out and getting people to actually sign up, but we got a really good amount of people to sign up, and then we got a lot of walk-ins, too,” Gryzik said.
She credited the large turnout to the posters her group put up around the school, as well as their posts on several social media platforms.
In addition to running the event, Gryzik also donated blood herself.
“I was definitely nervous, especially when we were going through the screening because I know a lot of people went in and they unfortunately couldn’t donate blood due to iron levels and stuff, so I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to donate. But then, once I got set up and everything, I thought it was going to hurt, but really, it was just a small pinch,” Gryzik said.
The screening procedures, as Vitalant phlebotomist and supervisor Amanda Villa explained, consist of “about 47 to 50 questions pretty much based on their medical history and travel, any medications, any restrictions, any diagnosis.” She said that on average, donating blood takes about 10 minutes.
Gryzik said the most rewarding part for her was “just getting to be with my group and seeing, we organized this, and it came from us, stepping in and seeing that our project became a reality and we actually set all of this up.”