On Monday, Feb. 24, Kingswood Oxford hosted the Warren Baird Memorial Blood Drive in the Soby Gym, where volunteers from the community gathered to donate blood.
A total of 41 people donated, only six less than their goal. The student chairs also came close to their goal of collecting 80 pints of blood, matching the number of last year’s donors.
The blood drive was named after Warren Baird, a former English department chair and faculty advisor for the KO News. He passed away in 2000 after being diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. Donors must be 17 years or older and in good health (meaning that the donor is not sick), and cannot have low iron levels or other serious health issues. The reason for this is to ensure the health and safety of donors. For high school students, there are additional height and weight requirements. Hosting a blood drive at KO offers students the chance to donate because blood drives outside of KO have more requirements that high school students may not meet. Although many students were eager to donate, most underclassmen and juniors were not eligible, due to the age restriction being 17 years.
Junior Madeline Arcaro is one of the student chairs of this year’s blood drive. She wanted to become a chair because her mom donates blood often. She wanted to donate blood but did not meet the requirements, so she decided to volunteer instead. “I volunteered last year and loved it,” Madeline said. “So now, as a chair, I want to do something good for the blood drive even if it’s not donating,” Madeline said.
Senior Chair Cai Kuivila wanted to become a chair for the blood drive because of her passion for the health sciences and community service. “I get to see the inner workings of a non-profit, such as the Red Cross and work closely with them while also getting involved in the community and promoting a great cause,” she said.
The blood drive’s success this year partially stems from the student chairs’ efforts. Madeline and fellow chairs, senior Ethan Brown, Cai, and junior Shreeya Chalikonda helped to spread the word by putting up posters around West Hartford with the time, date, and location. In addition to this, Madeline told her parents to tell their friends to donate.
Adult chairs Dean of Students Will Gilyard and Director of Teaching and Learning Jane Repp also assisted the student chairs greatly. Donors were given snacks and drinks after their blood was collected in order to stay healthy and hydrated. Once the blood was collected, it was given to the Red Cross, where it was distributed to hospitals around Connecticut. The majority of the blood collected at KO is given to the Yale Medical Center in New Haven. “This drive was particularly important because supplies have been extremely low at local hospitals, and blood is used for both emergent and scheduled procedures,” Cai said. “Blood donation is so important to the health care world and without donors many procedures and operations wouldn’t be possible.”
Senior Kush Kataria thought that donating to the blood drive was a good way to support a good cause. “It was for a good cause so I thought, why not donate,” he said, “It’s a great opportunity for KO students to get involved because they brought it right to our campus, and I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to donate to blood drives off campus.”
Sophomore volunteer Ben Baby said he thought that the blood drive allowed students to step outside of their comfort zones. “A lot of the students donated for the first time because they just became eligible to donate and some of them felt a bit nervous,” he said. “There were some people who couldn’t donate but went to support their friends, and people felt good about themselves when they left which was good.”
Senior Aiden Borusso donates blood often. “If you are eligible, there is no reason not to donate blood,” he said. “It only takes 30 minutes of your time.”
Madeline is glad that she can do something meaningful for other families by chairing and volunteering for the blood drive. “Someone from the Red Cross came to KO to talk with the chairs and told us that a lot of the blood and platelets donated actually go to cancer patients, most of whom need a lot of blood when going through chemotherapy treatments,” she said. “On top of this, one in three people will have cancer in their lifetime, which is a scary statistic. Almost everyone will know someone with it. Though I can’t do it yet, I’m excited to donate blood knowing that it could really help someone who needs it.”