This article can be found published on the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website.
KENNETT SQUARE – The holiday season brings about a sense of giving and many people help by donating toys, food or money to local charities, but something not as popular but needed just as much – if not more – is blood.
The National Honors Society (NHS) at Kennett High School did their part by holding its semi-annual blood drive Dec. 19.
“The Red Cross really needs blood at this time,” said advisor Alicia Tamargo. “They don’t get a lot of people donating around the holidays. It works out well that it’s right before break.”
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With just a couple days left until their short vacation, the students still turned out in bulk. There were rarely any empty beds.
“We usually see about 100 kids sign up,” Tamargo said. “Pretty much the entire NHS organization participates somehow either by donating or signing up for a period to help out. We’ve actually won awards over the years for having so many kids donating.”
“Hopefully they’ll realize the importance of donating and make it an experience and maybe something they continue for the rest of their lives.”
Out of all those students, the Red Cross generally receives about 75 pints of blood.
The NHS students went above and beyond this year by bringing in extra snacks for the donors to enjoy.
“The Red Cross brings pretzels, water and some juice, but [the NHS] did baked goods and brought them in as a little extra surprise,” Tamargo said.
On top of that, those NHS members who volunteer to help have to be trained by the Red Cross before the event.
It typically takes place during an NHS meeting where a Red Cross volunteer will come out to teach.
“They are trained for a half hour to 45-minute training on what the procedures are for donating blood and what they have to be able to do,” Tamargo said. “The students have to be a certain weight, they have to know the age limits, they have to know what their jobs are when they’re here, and they need to know what they’re supposed to do when they’re standing around with the kids.”
The NHS will hold another blood drive in May where there is expected to be a higher turnout.
“In the spring, you’ve got more kids who can donate,” Tamargo said. “I think they see what happens in December – that it was a good thing. They get the bug to try to do it again and if they weren’t eligible, they can try to do it again in May.”
But no matter if it is winter or spring, it all astounds Tamargo to see how many students are willing to come out and help a complete stranger.
“The students are very driven to do some service projects,” she said. “In this area, it seems to be imbedded in the kids. I don’t know if it’s the way they’re raised or that they see more people who don’t have things and therefore they’re more likely to try to get involved and help out.
“It’s very hopefully to see there are people who really want to serve their country and their community and to help out in any way they can.”