Red Cross Month honors volunteers

Red Cross Month in March was first recognized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, according to the Red Cross’ website. Since then, it has continued to be celebrated in acknowledgement of the work of the American Red Cross.

Founded in 1881, the Red Cross has committed to the mission of “alleviating human suffering by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” according to the website of the American Red Cross.

Every March, the organization recognizes the support of its volunteers who aid in times of natural disasters, of its thousands of blood donors, as well as its employees. This year, President Trump has recognized the month again, encouraging all Americans to celebrate with ceremonies, programs, and more in recognition of the organization.

Julie Sanz, assistant director and nurse practitioner in the Stevenson Wellness Center, said, “It’s important mostly because of the fact that so many people can save lives just by donating a unit of blood.” Each unit of blood potentially saves three people, which is why it’s important for people to be educated on their blood type especially those who have a universal blood type, such as O-, added Sanz.

In honor of Red Cross Month, the Wellness Center will focus on community outreach by posting facts and myths about the organization as well as how to donate or volunteer.

Students learn CPR and use of the AED during a March, 2018 session sponsored by Western Run Faculty in the Halls and organized by Laurel Moody, assistant professor of nursing. (Photo courtesy of Faculty in the Halls)

The Red Cross organization is often associated with its blood drives, though the organization does much more. “The organization also includes first responders for both large- and small-scale natural disasters,” said Morgan Somerville, director of student engagement at Stevenson University, who recruits volunteers for the Red Cross, among other organizations.

Red Cross Month also includes CPR trainings, said Sanz. Faculty, staff, and students often participate in these trainings, and some of the first-year residences are sponsoring CPR training as well.

Stevenson hosts five blood drives on campus each year, each hosted by a student organization. Previous hosts include Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Student Nurses Association, and Mission: I’m Home. However, blood donors are allowed to donate only every eight weeks, so the university conveniently schedules each blood drive based on this eight-week rotation so that everyone who can donate is available, said Somerville.

Senior nursing major Paige Adonis said that along with other nursing students, she is encouraged to participate in blood drives on campus and has donated herself.

The most recent blood drive was held in February in partnership with the Red Cross. Another blood drive is scheduled for April 15 in the Rockland Marketplace, also in partnership with the Red Cross. The Wellness Center plans to promote the event through its Facebook page.

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