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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

NT gives back in Red Cross blood drives

Monthly drives at New Trier’s Northfield campus provide important donations during blood shortage
New Trier hosts Red Cross-sponsored blood drives at the Northfield campus

The year is 2020, and schools and businesses are closing down rapidly. Everyone is retreating from society and living over Zoom. Patterns of daily life are interrupted, but the need for blood donations will not be taking a break. Even three years later, there are still difficulties for the Red Cross—they announced a national blood shortage in September.  

Thankfully, New Trier High School and other locations stepped up to help provide safe places for Red Cross blood drives. Drives started to be scheduled about once a month at the Northfield campus, usually in the cafeteria or main gym. 

[Hospitals] need to make sure they have adequate reserves [of blood], so when someone comes into the hospital in need that they can meet that need.

— Dr. Chris Johnson

Since then, the partnership between New Trier and the Red Cross has remained strong, and the blood drives have grown in success.

“I think it’s grown [in popularity] because a lot of people are becoming more aware,” Daftan Blair, building operations manager at Northfield, said. 

The drives first started when a former board of education member, who is involved with Red Cross, reached out to Associate Superintendent Dr. Chris Johnson to see if New Trier would be able to help by hosting.

“She knows how generous our community is, and how they are looking for ways to give back,” Johnson said.

These drives typically collect around 50 units—one unit being roughly a pint—of blood, according to Jocelyn Figueroa, an account manager at Red Cross.

A single unit has the ability to make a big difference.

“When one person donates, they can save up to three lives,” Figueroa said. “The impact [of what] New Trier has been doing is amazing.” 

Each drive has about 75 volunteer slots, most of which consistently get filled. The New Trier drives have therefore become a very reliable source of blood. 

However, the drives could not have been this successful without all the diligent planning that goes into each one.

“We have what’s called a 12-week process for Red Cross,” Figueroa said. 

This starts out with the Red Cross doing a site check for a location interested in hosting a drive. Once they find a date that works for both parties, the Red Cross and the host location work on marketing to gather volunteers. The Red Cross checks in many times throughout the process, and on the day of collection, everything is FDA regulated, and there are many people present to support and answer customer questions. 

New Trier helps out with several aspects of the preparation for drives as well. New Trier coordinates the drive with the Red Cross, and communication between the two allows the process to happen smoothly.

“Based on the school calendar and availability, we let them [Red Cross] know what dates will work best for us. Then that information is published by the Red Cross and it’s advertised on the school website so staff and families are aware of it,” Blair said. “[We] coordinate setting up the facility so that on the day of the drive the cafeteria or the main gym is adequately set up.”

All this work pays off through the numerous benefits that come from blood drives.

“Blood is critically important,” Johnson said. “[Hospitals] need to make sure they have adequate reserves, so when someone comes into the hospital in need that they can meet that need.”

Figueroa stated that many of the donations go toward people with sickle-cell anemia, women who need blood transfusions after giving birth, cancer patients, and people who have suffered physical trauma. 

There are also many stories published on the Red Cross website about people who have needed blood and how donations have helped them.

“The district is doing a phenomenal job in hosting these,” Blair said. “We are currently facing a national blood shortage, and these activities are a way of doing our civic duty.”

Due to these benefits and the way our community has stepped up, New Trier hopes to keep holding these blood drives.

“It’s something that our students and our staff and our community has responded really well to,” Johnson said. “As long as we can continue to do it logistically, I think we’ll continue to do it.”

New Trier would also like to continue their partnership with Red Cross.

 “We’re very grateful to be able to work with the Red Cross because they’ve been great partners to us,” Johnson said.

The Red Cross also believes that this will be a long-standing partnership.

“You guys do an amazing job getting people to come and donate. I think we’ll be there for a while,” Figueroa said. 

For New Trier community members looking to get involved, Blair stated that there are already several drives set up for later dates in the school year, and sign up information is on the New Trier website. Figueroa also said that there are many volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross. 

“There are a lot of people who require blood on a daily basis,” Figueroa said. “To save one person’s life, it’s kind of like you’re heroic. You’re doing something that’s very selfless.”

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