The scene: Steilacoom High School, Friday, the 13th. Three light blue buses made their way along Steilacoom Blvd. in the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 13. Their objective? Steilacoom High School where they set up camp to gather life-saving fluid that day.
The mid-November blood drive, coordinated by SHS’s Key Club, took place between 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. “Steilacoom High School has a reputation,” explained Patricia Hernandez, “for being one of the biggest blood donor sites among high schools in the county.” She is Donor Resources Consultant for Cascade Regional Blood Services and has been coming to SHS for the past eight years.
“Steilacoom is very community oriented,” Hernandez continued, explaining that Cascade anticipated collecting about 60 pints of blood on Friday. Because there were more donors than expected, the Draw was extended another hour and a half, resulting in more than 100 pints, according to Key Club president Zach Esseln.
Between 25-30 percent of the nation’s blood supply, Hernandez added, “comes from high school students.” Why? “High school students are healthy, and they have the time.”
Zach Esseln watched the event to ensure it went smoothly. The mid-November draw was planned within a couple weeks’ time. A second draw is planned for next spring, according to Zach. “We expect to collect even more then.”
About 60 Key Club members took part, working in teams of 16, during six shifts throughout the collection period. Esseln said about 127 SHS students signed up to donate. “We had more volunteers this time than we actually needed,” he added. Bob Mize and Jody Snyder are the group’s advisors.
The blood, Hernandez continued, “is split into three products: white cells, red cells and plasma.” The kids are rewarded with participation T-shirts, special treatment (in the form of juice and cookies to restore their balance after the Draw), and “getting out of class”—for a good cause, of course.
While most of the day’s donors were students, Science teacher Aaron McDonald also took part. Although a tad pale and light-headed once the tubes were withdrawn, with cookies and juice clutched in hand, he confidently stepped off the bloodmobile and returned to his second-floor classroom.