Volunteers from BLUU Crew, Urbana University’s official student booster club, didn’t arrive at the Student Center wearing blue body paint or “Go Knights” outfits for the final Community Blood Center (CBC) campus blood drive of the school year Thursday, April 10. They may tone down the spirit when they donate and volunteer, but their involvement represents an important youth movement underway.
Thursday’s blood drive was an opportunity to honor UU as a Gold partner in CBC’s LifeSaving Ambassadors Club for blood drive excellence in 2013. UU hosted four campus blood drives and averaged better than 95% of the collection goal.
BLUU Crew and the Small Steps Community Services Organization joined forces as student sponsors to help recruit donors for the blood drives and volunteer in the Donor Café. Key to the successful year was support for the April 25, 2013 blood drive in honor of UU assistant professor Kathy Bumbalough who had recently lost her battle with cancer.
Thursday’s final blood drive of the academic year had 20 registrations and 18 donations. “We did pretty well, but we have had better years,” said Student Health Services nurse and blood drive coordinator Nadynne Parks, who made her 48th lifetime donation at the blood drive. “We did better last year because of support for our professor who passed away, and a lot of our good donors are graduating. We’re trying to get more freshmen involved and we’ve got everything set for next year.”
Breanna Rittenhouse and Ryan Mahoney represent some of the new faces of community service at UU. Both are freshmen members of BLUU Crew who donated and worked volunteer shifts at the blood drive. Breanna was a CBC Red Cord Honor Program donor at Northeastern High School and Ryan earned the Red Cord at Emmanuel Christian Academy. In his senior year, ECA earned two CBC High School Leadership Grants for blood drive and Red Cord participation.
“I did it because I had a friend who really didn’t want to do it because he was scared of needles,” said Ryan. “I did it with him every year. Here at Urbana, community service can be part of your scholarship.” Breanna said, “With BLUU Crew, we do a lot for homecoming, but it’s also community service.”
Freshman Maria Hafer represent a new generation of donors at UU. She got started donating while at Stebbins High School and has now donated at three UU blood drives. Support also comes from faculty, staff and community members. Nick Christian, as associate dean who helps students with their job searches, made his 13 lifetime donation at the blood drive. “I’ve been doing it for years,” he said.
Jon Alspaugh and his girlfriend Emily Eckhardt both donated Thursday. Jon takes classes at Clark State Community College and works late hours in security at Urbana. He found time Thursday to make his milestone 5th lifetime donation. “It doesn’t bother me at all and it helps people,” he said.
Emily, a nursing student at Clark State, made her 7th lifetime donation at the blood drive. “My family has always been into healthcare,” she said. “My dad works in a hospital, by grandma is a nurse and my grandpa was an EMT and firefighter. It’s just something we’ve always done.”
Michele Hagerman lives in Urbana and made her 4th lifetime donation Thursday. She wants to make donations at UU blood drives a routine because of a boost that’s even better than the BLUU Crew boosters. “I got two phone calls saying I save two lives so far,” she said. “Those are the best calls I’ve ever got. I always save them on my phone. If I’m having a bad day I can always listen to it.”