High school and college students account for 20 percent of the blood the American Red Cross collects.
Because of the impact they have on the blood supply, the Red Cross has introduced a new leadership program for high school students.
The national program, launched at the beginning of the school year, is designed to reward high school students who contribute to the Red Cross.
“A lot of times people donate blood but they don’t realize that these are actual service acts that they can be recognized for,” said April Oppliger, Red Cross spokeswoman.
The program has three tiers. To participate, students are asked to donate blood, volunteer and recruit other donors.
The first tier requires students to donate blood at least three times a calendar year, with one donation given during the summer.
“We tend to lose that life-saving connection with younger students during the summer,” Oppliger said.
For completing the first tier, students receive red honor cords to wear at graduation.
The second tier requires students to volunteer for the Red Cross for a total of eight hours. Students can volunteer at their high school blood drives, at other blood drives or at the Red Cross.
Volunteering at blood drives includes registering donors, providing snacks to students and other tasks, Oppliger said.
Completing the second tier earns students an opportunity to win one of five $5,000 scholarships, in addition to the honor cords.
The final tier requires students to encourage five friends or family members to give blood.
For completing all three tiers, students receive a recommendation from a local Red Cross executive in addition t receiving the honor cords and scholarship opportunity.
The High School Leadership program is done on an individual basis with students signing up online at redcrossblood.org/leader.
It’s a complement to the organization’s Young Minds Change Lives School Program.
Through that program, area high schools receive scholarship money for hosting blood drives. The amount ranges from $250 to $2,500, depending on how many units of blood were collected, Oppliger said.
Many schools host two blood drives—one in fall and one in spring.
The school can then choose to award the money to one student or to split it and award it to multiple students.
Students who are 17 years old, or are 16 and have parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health are eligible to donate blood.
Eligible donors are asked to have a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification.
Those who are ineligible to donate can contact a local Red Cross representative for information on how to participate in the leadership program.
“I think this is the first step to creating a lifelong partnership,” Oppliger said. “It is our goal to encourage students to start donating as soon as they’re eligible. By providing a rewarding experience, it’s something they will continue.”