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McHenry County students boosting low summer blood donations

Students set up large-scale drive set for July 24

WOODSTOCK – As the summer slump for blood donations is upon us, a group of conscientious students have banded together for what is shaping up to be the largest student-run blood drive in the area.

Event organizers have gone as far as to call it “the biggest life-saving event of the summer.”

Students from 17 high schools in McHenry and Lake counties, along with McHenry County College, are joining forces for a large-scale blood drive later this month. It’s part of efforts made by Heartland Blood Centers to counter a drop in donations during summer.

Year round, Heartland Blood Centers has one goal in mind: 600 units. It needs to collect 600 units of blood each day to supply 63 hospitals in Chicago and Northern Illinois.

That’s a lofty goal at any time of year, but coupled with summer vacations and a host of donors often distracted by the weather, it can be next to impossible. Other than those who are middle age and older, the next biggest demographic for blood donations is those in high school and college, said Heartland’s Director of Donor Recruitment Amy Smith.

Heartland further reports that of the 65 percent who are eligible to donate blood, only 5 percent actually do, making student donors more important.

“Summer has a severe impact on blood donations,” Smith said. “When students go on break for the summer – with 25 percent of our blood donations coming from college and high school students – it impacts our ability to collect.”

When school is in session, the blood center has “a captive audience,” Smith said.

“During the school year, we go to them. Now we’re asking them to come to us. It’s much harder.”

So Heartland teamed up with area schools to offer incentives such as a DJ, photo booth, raffles and prizes to get students excited to donate blood during their summer break. In May, the students took over planning the large-scale event July 24.

On Monday, students from Woodstock North High School coordinated a smaller blood drive to get a feel for what the July drive will be like. They set a goal of 30 donors, but walked away with 37 blood donations that will save 111 lives, according to Heartland estimates.

“The planning part is so important,” said Annie Bartlett, a soon-to-be senior at Woodstock North who co-chaired the smaller event. “We come out with saving a lot of lives. It’s pretty gratifying.”

Her planning partner Tania Guarneros told a story of being injured after falling from her bike as a 6-year-old and requiring blood donations from her parents.

“Other people don’t have that luxury, so that’s why I donate blood,” she said.

Organizers hope the student-run blood drive will triple the blood donations from Monday’s event. It will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 24 at Church of Holy Apostles, 5211 Bull Valley Road, McHenry.

For information, call Carrie Futchko at 815-271-2910.

Participating schools in July 24 blood drive
• Alden-Hebron High School

• Barrington High School

• Cary-Grove High School

• Crystal Lake Central High School

• Crystal Lake South High School

• Faith Lutheran High Schools

• Harry D. Jacobs High School

• Harvard High School

• Johnsburg High School

• Lake Zurich High School

• Marian Central Catholic High School

• McHenry County College

• McHenry East Campus

• McHenry West Campus

• Prairie Ridge High School

• Richmond-Burton High School

• Wauconda High School

• Woodstock High School

• Woodstock North High School

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