Three years ago, Appalachian State University (ASU) was looking for a community service project that could engage a large number of students competing in events during Homecoming week. A large-scale blood drive was suggested – and immediately felt like a perfect fit. Students could donate or volunteer to be a part of the drive, and the American Red Cross would receive the blood that is always in high demand. The scenario was truly win-win for everyone involved. Similar to all events sponsored by Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT), the blood drive would be run by a committee of students who would benefit from a unique leadership opportunity.
The first year of the Homecoming blood drive, ASU set a goal of 500-pints. With the help from the student committee, that goal was exceeded as hundreds of students came out and donated 663 productive pints.
The second year, the student committee – in conjunction with the American Red Cross – raised the bar by doubling the drive’s goal to 1,000 pints. There are only a handful of 1,000 pint drives that occur in the entire country, so making this decision was both thrilling and terrifying to everyone involved. The students worked tirelessly recruiting donors and volunteers, securing entertainment for the donors waiting, soliciting donations of food and beverages for the recovering donors, coordinating parking, contacting local media, collaborating with the Homecoming committee, finalizing the endless detailed logistics for the big event….and the rest is Mountaineer history. Over 400 volunteers helped run the drive while almost 1400 students, staff and faculty showed up to give the gift of life that day. A total of 1,060 productive pints were collected. ASU had broken a long-standing record by officially collecting the most amount of blood in one day in the history of North Carolina. Months after national numbers were processed, ASU received the amazing news that the drive was the 10th largest blood drive in the nation. Making the honor even more special was the knowledge that seven undergraduate students coordinated this record breaking, national ranking blood drive.
The planning for the 3rd Annual Homecoming 1,000-Pint Blood Drive began in the spring of 2009 and culminated in another incredibly successful event. Donors donned black and gold stickers that read, “Today I give my blood for Appalachian,” and record numbers of staff and faculty turned out to experience the electric atmosphere of “the big blood drive.” Greek organizations wore their letters with pride, student a cappella groups entertained the masses and beautiful Homecoming banners were on display. The entire day was a tribute to Appalachian State and the quality student leaders that emerge from its halls. The weather was not on ASU’s side, however and the number of donors coming out were low, making the goal of 1,000 pints seem impossible. The ARC implemented a new process that made donation smoother, but tracking the number of productive pints and determining the final number of pints collected took many hours. The announcement came in the early morning that the Mountaineers had come through again by donating 1,003 productive pints in one day. No record was broken, but the remaining staff and students cheered just as loud and as long as the year before. The goal was not only met, but exceeded (by 3!) and the number of pints collected made it clear that each person made the blood drive a success and that every individual who walked through the doors helped give others the gift of life.
For more information, please contact:
Kate Johnson, Assistant Director for Community Service
Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT)