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Fike High School health science students will host the nation’s largest one-day high school blood drive from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 15.
“This year our goal is 650 or more pints,” said Jessica Dumong, health science teacher at Fike High School. “In the past five years, I think the highest that we have gotten was in 2014 with 779 pints that we collected.”
The big drive, held jointly with the American Red Cross, was first held in 1987. This year’s theme is “Be A Lifesaver...Give Blood.”
“We usually have between 40 and 50 student volunteers at the blood drive each year,” Dumong said. “These students are health science students that we teach at Fike. They volunteer to help with the flow of traffic and assisting donors and check-ins. There are so many things that we do along with our students to make it a great success.”
According to Denny Donaldson, account manager at the Red Cross Eastern North Carolina Donation Center’s donor recruitment department, the Fike drive is successful because of the enthusiasm of the students and the Wilson community’s participation.
“I think it comes with the school and the staff and the volunteers being very engaged with the community,” said Donaldson.
Dumong is co-chairwoman for the event with fellow health science teacher Christina Lucas.
“We recruit student donors. We recruit community donors. We plan all of the details that we can from our end. We try to advertise as much as possible,” Dumong said. “We start planning this a couple of weeks after last year’s event. We set a goal and we work on it all year, pretty much. We really get heavy with it in January when we start making appointments online. We rally community members to come in. All of our students are not old enough to donate, so they recruit donors from their home and their lives.”
Dumong said organizers are proud of the fact that they hold the title for being the nation’s largest high school blood drive.
“We try our best to keep that ranking but not lose sight of the golden piece that we save lives,” Dumong said.
The most sought-after blood types are typically O negative, O positive, A negative and B negative. They are usually the less common ones.
For the students, holding the blood drive means being able to gain valuable experience in the health care field.
“They are able to see firsthand some of the things that we have learned about in class as far as interacting with the donors, customer service and professionalism,” Dumong said. “If they see someone getting sick and not feeling well, they have been trained somewhat to not let them fall, and some of the safety parameters that we have talked about and just see health care in motion. I tell them all the time, ‘You can sit here and hear me talk about it day in and day out, but until you see it, it’s not going to stick with you,’ so they are getting to see and do some of those things that we have learned about.”
Donors can expedite the process by registering online at redcrossblood.org and also taking a little time to get what’s called a Rapid Pass.
“They can go in there and they can answer the questions about their history and they will get a bar code with it,” Dumong said. “Once they get to the door, they can show that they have already done that part and it’s just like a fast pass where you can go by some of the steps because you have already done that. It allows for a fast pass through the blood donation area. You don’t have to do as much of the process there. You’ve already done some of it on your own time.”
“We’re just very, very proud of this event,” Dumong said. “We really want to the community involved and we have to have the community involved in order to make this a success.”
Donors do not have to register, but they need to have photo identification to donate.
Brewmasters is donating lunch and dinner for student volunteers. Schmidt Law has donated all of the T-shirts students will be wearing for the blood drive.
Coincidentally, the Fike High School band is having a spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s kind of a twofer if someone wants to come donate blood late in the afternoon,” Dumong said. “They can purchase a spaghetti plate for dinner.”
“We would just love for the community to come out to continue to make this the biggest one-day high school blood drive in the country,” Donaldson said. “We are depending on the Wilson community to do that.”
NOTE: In the original version of this story, the date was incorrect. It has been corrected in this version to March 15.