Since students arrived at Penn State, 13 blood drives have been held by the Penn State Student Red Cross Club, helping to end the emergency appeal that had been in place since mid-June.
Because supplies were dangerously low, the American Red Cross announced an emergency appeal in June, asking people to donate more blood, said Wendi Keeler, the club adviser of the Student Red Cross Club.
Keeler said that schools’ and universities’ summer breaks generally causes a 30 percent decrease in donations every summer.
Cheryl Gergely, communications manager of the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, the region in which Penn State falls under, said the Red Cross needs a five day supply at any given time and, during the summer, they had a one-and-a-half to a two-day supply of the different blood types.
And this year, the typical summer shortages were made worse by blackouts and hot weather, President of the Student Red Cross Club Melissa Hubley said. These conditions likely kept donors indoors and some of the blackouts even cut electricity from the donation locations this summer, she said.
Despite the difficulties, faculty blood drives over the summer by the College of Education and the College of Engineering raised about half of the blood collected at Penn State during the summer, Keeler said.
Penn State is among the top three schools in the nation when it comes to the raw number of pints donated, Keeler said.
In the 13 blood drives the club has organized since the beginning of the school year, the group has collected 1,051 units of blood, she said. With a goal of collecting 998 units, this success puts them on track to make up for the lack of blood collected over the summer, Keeler said.
She said Penn State’s Red Cross Club is so developed, that faculty and students who remained on campus were successful in collecting blood even in the summer.
The club supports various Red Cross endeavors, from disaster training to CPR instruction, said club treasurer Emily Dong (senior-biotechnology). She said the club’s most prominent, largest endeavors are the blood drives.
Dong, who also acts as the on-site coordinator at the blood drives, handles the volunteers and delegating tasks. She said she didn’t start to give blood until after finishing high school.
The blood collected in the drives is crucial to surgeries performed in Centre County and beyond, Hubley (senior-microbiology) said.
When it comes to projected donors for this year, Hubley said that it’s hard to say if there will or will not be a shortage, since the school year is just beginning. However, Hubley said is confident about the amount of blood the Penn State drives have collected.
Hubley also said that when recruiting for donors at East Halls, where many freshmen live, recruiters saw an encouraging amount of interest. Many students had donated blood before, or had heard about blood drives in high school, so they were willing to sign up to donate.
Though the amount collected in September was more than their goal, the Red Cross Club's biggest time of blood collection is usually between October and November, Hubley said. The club’s goal is to collect 2,000 units of blood in the annual Penn State vs. Michigan State University blood drive competition.
This will be the 19th annual competition between Penn State and Michigan State, Hubley said. Each school will be trying to collect 2,000 units of blood or more, she said.
Although Penn State has won in the rivalry 12 times to Michigan’s six times, this year's competition will be all the more intense — as Penn State tries to win back the title from Michigan State, who won last year, Hubley said.
The competition is also in place to preempt the drop in blood donation that typically occurs before Thanksgiving, Keeler said.