Young Blood Donors

Young Blood Donors
By: Wendy Ray

You can start donating blood when you're 17, but how many people actually start donating that young? You might be surprised. The American Red Cross makes it easy for teens to donate, hoping they keep the habit of giving throughout their lives.

This is 17 year old Jerrica O'Kelly's first time to give blood. "I was scared I was going to be the one to pass out, but I'm okay," she says. Jerrica admits, she probably would have never thought about giving if it wasn't for this blood drive at Jackson High School. The drive is part of the American Red Cross' "What's Inside of U Counts" program. Cheryl Klueppel with the Red Cross says the goal is to educate the next generation of donors. "We want them to understand who they're helping, children, patients in the hospitals, they are making a difference, they are saving lives. Hopefully they'll keep donating once or twice a year into adulthood," she says.

18 year old donor Kassie Olson says, "I think it's the best thing you can do for a person. If a person needs blood, whether they're a child or an 80 year old, they're in need." Kassie has given blood twice, both times she gave at her school drive. Tyler Holman is one of the many students to help organize this drive. Even though he's not old enough to give yet, he will definitely donate next year. "There's such a great need for blood in our country, especially with the things that have been going on recently," he says.

Klueppel adds that the high school drives could not come at a better time for the Red Cross. "We're getting into the winter months and the holiday season. During the winter months we see a decrease in community participation," she says.

Klueppel adds that most high schools have two blood drives a year. Those who do that and make the donation goal they set for their drives get put in a drawing to win a 500 dollar scholarship for their school. If you would like to donate blood, check with your local high school to see if there is a drive coming up.