Berryville High School hosts blood drive
By Haley Schichtl
The Berryville High School Student Council held its first blood drive since the start of the pandemic on Thursday, Oct. 29, gathering 31 donors.
Student Council faculty representative Nicole McElhaney said that because of COVID-19, blood drives have had low turnout.
“For so long, people … did not want to get out and risk exposure,” she said. “Now that we have a little bit better understanding of the situation, the blood drive workers are following social distancing guidelines, wearing masks, sanitizing between donors. It’s a safe option now.”
Berryville hosts a blood drive twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, and it lasts most of the day, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“The Student Council assists in setting up the blood drive, checking on the donors, running what they call the ‘canteen,’ or the snack area after people get done donating,” McElhaney said. “They also work on the front end in recruiting donors for the school and encourage their classmates to sign up.”
Community Blood Center of the Ozarks from Springfield, Mo. sponsored the event.
“Part of the team actually came from Northwest Arkansas,” McElhaney said. “Once you donate, you can actually sign up for emails that will alert you once your blood is used, and they started a new thing where once somebody receives a transfusion, they can choose to email you a thank-you note.”
McElhaney said donors have to be at least 16 years old and must have a parent’s permission if they are under 17.
“It’s encouraged that they drink lots of water and have a good dinner the night before,” she said. “They have to bring their picture ID, and they’ll answer questions about their history. Once they do that, if they pass, they do a finger prick to see about your iron levels.”
McElhaney said about 40 students attempted to give blood, but some were turned down. The blood drive also normally allows community members to come in and donate, but wasn’t able to this year because of COVID-19 precautions. She said that meant the turnout was slightly lower than the usual turnout of 50 or 60 donors.
A first-time donor, sophomore Elizabeth Perez, said she was nervous but the blood drive workers made her comfortable, and they give donors a free T-shirt.
“It was more blood than I thought it would be,” Perez said. “Donating blood is a great thing to do and could help save someone’s life. Everyone should do it if you have the chance.”
“It’s really exciting to me to get to help coordinate the blood drive every year, because the first time I donated blood was when I was in high school,” McElhaney said. “It’s really rewarding to get to see these students donate blood for the first time and hopefully start a lifetime practice that is saving lives.”