SUNY New Paltz hosted a community blood drive through the New York Blood Center (NYBC) to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, drawing students and New Paltz residents alike. The donations from the blood drive on Monday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 12 were used to help victims of natural disaster.
Harvey struck the coast of Texas on Aug. 25, stalling near the coast over the next two days and eventually moving inland. Thousands of businesses and residents lost power in south and southeast Texas, some losing power for weeks. Other areas experienced more than 50 inches of rainfall, devastating areas and leaving them virtually underwater. At least 80 people died, and thousands of victims suffered and are still struggling with the devastation.
Shahnoor Khan, a first-year student at SUNY New Paltz and a coordinator with the New York Blood Center, elaborated on the importance of donating blood.
“Considering that only two percent of the eligible population actually donates blood, it’s really important that everyone who can does so,” she said. “The goal for the past few years has been to increase awareness of blood shortages and communicate more with the general public.”
At a six-hour blood drive, the NYBC hopes to get at least 50 blood donations, while at longer eight hour drives, they hope to get around 100 blood donations. Although the number seems low, it is an effect of the lower numbers of donations in the fall and summer.
“We ensure the number by advertising the donor advantage points program and getting in touch with as many individual donors as possible with phone calls and emails,” Khan said.
The donor advantage points program works as a rewards program. Every time a person donates blood, they accumulate points. When enough are accumulated, they can be traded in for gift cards, tickets and other rewards of monetary value.
Third-year New Paltz student Michael Dimarco noted that when he donated, there was a general humanitarian consensus: to help others.
“I donate to every single blood drive because it’s the right thing to do, honestly,” he said. “Getting that pamphlet afterwards that shows the people I have helped makes it worth it.”
Khan answered with a similar response.
“When I’ve donated, I’ve always done it because it means that a few minutes of my day could save someone else’s life, which makes getting a needle stuck in my vein totally worth it,” she said. “I myself have received multiple transfusions, so I understand the value one pint of blood can do for someone. Donating blood is something all who are able to should consider. Lives can be saved.”