Story and photos by Jo Mathis, AAPS District News Editor
The state’s largest elementary school blood drive is underway today through 7:30 p.m. at Burns Park Elementary today, March 10, 2015.
Appointments are not necessary, so it’s not too late to save a life.
Fifth grade teacher Sandy Kreger started the drive with her students about 12 years ago because she had always wanted to make a difference in a big way.
“I told my elementary class at the time about it, and they said, `We want to help!’” she recalls. “At first I wasn’t sure how, but it didn’t take long for us to put our heads together.
Some of those former students, including Josh Martins-Caulfield, now return to volunteer.
“I love contributing to the blood drive because I think it’s a great cause,” said Josh, an eighth grader at Tappan Middle School, sitting at the intake table.
Kreger’s current fifth graders chaperone donors, register donors, and are “cruise directors” guiding donors to the right places and offering magazines and snacks.
The students are also in charge of childcare, give donors muffins and drinks, and give donors their goody bags.
Each donor gets a hand-written note from the fifth graders.
“We learn about blood, about teamwork, and do lots of writing,” says Kreger. “The students are two inches taller after knowing at this young age that they can make a difference. They can help save lives.”
“We are essentially our own competition because we get so many pints. We tend to average in the 80s, but I am shooting for 90 for this drive. Most smaller drives get about 20 pints.”
Kreger said her fellow teachers and staff are very responsive and supportive, and the local businesses donated all kinds of swag.
As if that wasn’t enough, Principal Chuck Hatt provided the entertainment for the afternoon, donning a cowboy hat, picking up his guitar and adopting the persona of “Cowboy Bob” as he sang songs he’s written, and others by Bob Dylan.
“It’s a great cause,” he said, between tunes.
Kelley DeLong, a representative for the American Red Cross, said the blood drive is “outstanding and super exciting.”
“I wasn’t lucky like this,” she said. “I grew up in the 70’s, when we didn’t recycle. We didn’t wear seatbelts. And we certainly didn’t think about blood. These kids are learning such an important thing so early in life, and these will be our donors of the future. So we’re very lucky and I’m very proud that these kids are so into this.”