Giving the gift of life
As 2011 draws to an end, Christmas songs begin to play everywhere. Whether we like it or not, we are immersed into the spirit of this special season.
For many, it is the time when the spirit of giving is at its peak. Many children look forward to a visit from Santa, while others await this year's latest technology. Some are even content with crisp cash enclosed in a simple card.
Whether we are giving something of value or not, that in itself is not the purpose of this season. When we go through overcrowded stores to find the perfect gift, we want to give the best to our loved ones to show our love, kindness and appreciation for them, not out of obligation.
Though we appreciate the sentiment of toys and trinkets, Sutter Union High School students would rather be engaged in the spirit of giving in another but life-changing way: by giving blood.
Since 1948, BloodSource has collected blood donations and provided life-saving blood products to communities throughout Northern California. BloodSource needs to collect about 700 pints of blood every day to support patients in more than 40 hospitals.
High school students alone donate more than 18,000 pints of blood at BloodSource drives every year, which makes a life-saving difference for thousands of people.
Laurie Rothe, a phlebotomist, said she likes working for BloodSource because, "We're helping people, saving lives."
BloodSource conducted its bi-annual blood drive at SUHS on Dec. 6. Many 16- to 18-year-old students were able to give blood this Christmas season. Though the donation process was rather long and dreary, the students had no problem with the extended time missed from their classrooms.
Kyle Schuster, a 12th-grader, said he gave blood: "To do something good for someone else — and for free stuff!"
Although giving blood is a great thing to do, many people are intimidated because of the minor potential side effects. While the need for blood continues to grow, the number of donors continues to decrease. Today, fewer than 4 out of every 10 people in the U.S. are eligible to give blood. Sadly, fewer than 1 in 10 actually chooses to donate.
Drew Denton, an 11th-grader, said, "I admit that I fainted while giving blood, but I know that what I did was worth it."
Those who gave blood received a voucher for a free pint of ice cream from Baskin-Robbins and a complimentary T-shirt as a "thank you" for their generosity — not to mention the free snacks and dismissal from class time that students gladly took advantage of.
Though that might appear greedy, the students have a small but lasting mark on their arms to remind them that their discomfort could save a life. That in itself can remind students how blessed they are to have good health.
This time of year at Sutter High, we are not looking to receive thanks, but merely to help the ones who need it most, even if we never get the chance to learn their names or see their faces. We can know we did something worthwhile as we move on into the new year.
Nola and Jayna Dodd are seniors at Sutter Union High School. Their column appears every six weeks in Education.