KETTERING, Ohio - It is a year of renewal at Fairmont High School and everywhere. The Firebirds hosted their first blood drive of the school year Oct. 7 and began a new year of the “Unity the Community” campaign with traditional rival Alter High.
The blood drive totaled 119 donors, including 99 donations and 61 first-time donors for 119% of collection goal.
Fairmont and Alter are partnering for the sixth year with Community Blood Center and Universal 1 Credit Union on the Unity in Community campaign. Both schools will host fall blood drives and jointly present a $1,000 award sponsored by Universal 1 to a designated charity.
It is a year to “Revive the Drive” after the disruptions of COVID-19. High school blood drives in the 2020-2021 school year were down 28% during the pandemic. Blood drives were smaller with a 52% decline in donors and a worrisome 48% decline in first-time donors.
Seniors in the Allied Health program again served as blood drive volunteers at the Fairmont blood drive in Trent Arena. They described a rollercoaster year in many ways, including support for blood drives.
The fall of 2019 was a typical pre-pandemic blood drive at Fairmont with 209 donors, 101 first-time donors and 157 donations. Students were on remote learning in the fall of 2020, but the fall blood drive was allowed. It totaled 83 donors, 65 donations and 35 first-time donors.
“We were excited to have the blood drive,” said Student Activities Coordinator Corey Miller, “and I know students were excited to have something to return to school for.”
Students were back in class for the spring semester and the March 2021 blood drive rebounded to 122 donors, 83 donations and 57 first-time donors.
“This year it might be 100 donors and years before it was 200,” said Allied Health volunteer Abby Engliing. “I’m so glad people are signing up to donate. I feel we still don’t have the people we had before.”
“I came last year to donate,” Allied Health blood drive volunteer Kabin Ligotino said about the fall blood drive during remote learning. “We couldn’t have volunteers, but it seemed like it was easier to donate when we were remote. You could just leave and go back home for a Zoom class later.”
The fall blood drive is traditionally smaller than the spring blood drive, said Corey, with fewer students old enough to donate. But sophomores Elena Alvarez and Rikki Robinson turned 16 in time to be eligible.
“I just like helping people,” said Rikki.
Junior Allied Health student Rylee Snell is interested in a career in medicine and made her first lifetime donation. “I’m trying to do a good thing because I’m O-negative,” said Rylee. “And there’s the getting over my fear of needles!”
Despite the COVID fall of 2020, the Fairmont and Alter blood drives combined for 131 donors. There was no award presentation at the Fairmont-Alter basketball game, but Alter did name “Ride Cincinnati for Cancer Research” to receive the Unity Award. Fairmont will choose this year’s charity.
“This to me is a rebuilding year,” said Corey. “We’re finding out how to get back into everything, and how the procedures work.”
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