Sydney Welch knows all about the importance of blood drives.
“They take the blood out of people who want to give blood, and give it to people who need it,” said the fifth-grader, who attends Quogue Elementary School,
Sydney and her classmates recently learned why some people need blood transfusions through a program known as “Little Doctors,” which is sponsored by the New York Blood Center. The initiative is aimed at educating elementary-level students on the importance of blood donors and organizing blood drives.
Quogue Elementary School students were able to volunteer their time and newfound expertise on Tuesday when they assisted blood donors during the school’s first-ever blood drive.
Dressed in paper scrubs, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders were transformed into little doctors, escorting adult donors to have their blood drawn. The assistants also handed out cookies to participants after they donated.
Before the blood drive, students were briefed by Kristin Beeden-Bender, a representative from the New York Blood Center, about the need and function of blood. “We taught them all about blood and the things it does in the body,” she said.
Ms. Beeden-Bender explained that even though the children were much younger than 16, the minimum age required to give blood, the “Little Doctors” program familiarizes them with the donation process. The initiative should also encourage them to become donors when they are older, she said.
Noting that those 76 and older cannot donate blood without the consent of a doctor, Ms. Beeden-Bender said blood centers must rely on members of younger generations for donations when they come of age. “We need the younger kids to know about the need for blood,” she said.
Sydney recapped what she learned during Ms. Beeden-Bender’s informational session. She explained that there are approximately 12 pints of blood in the human body and donors typically give one pint per donation. Sydney added that she was on hand to hand out cookies and juice to donors.
“If they don’t eat, they can faint,” Sydney said, adding that she was assisting at the blood drive to do a good deed. “I just wanted to help.”
Quogue resident Erin Francis organized Tuesday’s event after attending a blood drive at the Quogue Library in August. It was then that she learned that participation could result in students winning tickets to a Long Island Ducks game.
“The best-performing school wins 100 tickets,” she said, noting that the school would have another chance to win the tickets by hosting a second blood drive over Memorial Day weekend.
Ms. Francis’s daughter, 8-year- old Sadie, said she was glad to help out on Tuesday, especially if it meant a future field trip for her and her classmates. “If we get [enough donors], we get to go to a Ducks game,” Sadie said.
Ms. Francis explained that students also volunteered by making parting gifts for the donors. “We made 100 little heart necklaces,” she said.
Sadie contributed by calling parents and encouraging them to donate prior to the blood drive. “I just said, ‘This is a reminder about the Quogue blood drive,’ so everybody comes,” she said.
It seems that efforts of Sadie and her classmates paid off. When the last drop was counted, Quogue students collected 34 pints of blood, according to sponsors. Not too shabby for an inaugural blood drive.