Blood drives thrive on campus

St. John’s received nearly 200 pints of blood in donations from the first two blood drives of the semester, paving the way for a third, originally unplanned blood drive scheduled for Wednesday.

The latest event, slated to occur from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Council Hall, has been brought on due to the success of the two day back-to-school blood drives on August 28 and 29 and a blood shortage, said Kevin Ryan, associate for the Office of Community Relations.

According to Ryan, 839 pints of blood have been collected from the Queens campus in 2008 thus far, including 648 pints from the Spring 2008 semester and 191 pints donated during the two day back-to-school blood drive on August 28 and 29.

1,366 pints of blood were contributed by the Queens and Staten Island campuses combined last year, a new record for the University, said Ryan.

The Manhattan and Oakdale campuses have also recently begun getting into the act and hosted their first blood drives ever in the spring, gathering 21 and 20 pints, respectively.

Representatives from the Participate ’08 groups will also be near the mobile unit, available to register students for the upcoming presidential election.

St. John’s for the last two years has been the recipient of the NY Blood Services’ Diamond Award for its 2006 and 2007 donations.

The University has previously received the Gold and Bronze award, in 2004 and 2005.

The annual events, held in association with the Office of Community Relations, the New York Blood Center and other school groups, is usually held three to four times a semester inside Council Hall.

However, with ongoing construction causing the building to serve as the temporary home for the Student Financial Aid Office, the NYBC brought their mobile donation unit center with them in the form of a large, colorful bus.

“At this time of year and because of all the construction going on, it’s tough to find indoor space [for the blood drive], but we really wanted to do it,”
said Ryan.

Bruce Doncaster, a donor specialist with the New York Blood Center, stressed the significance of giving blood.

“Blood donation is so important,” he said. “We can’t grow it, can’t build it…this is the only thing that works.”

“The success of this blood drive shows how well St. John’s students give back to their community,” Doncaster said.

Students said the mobile unit easily got their attention.

“I think the huge bus definitely drew people,” said senior Ben Liss. “[The blood drive] is always huge at the beginning of the semester, but I never remember it being this crazy.”

Freshman Rose Marinari said the large vehicle also compelled her to donate blood.

“I’ve been meaning to give blood for a while and when I saw the enormous bus, I couldn’t walk away without signing up to donate,” she said.

Bill Mardavich, a NYBC donor recruiter, said St. John’s “is one of our best” blood donating institutions and also said that he feels students understand the importance of giving blood.

Senior Ben Liss said he believes each donation is important.

“This kind of service has such an immediate impact,” he said. “This blood could be going to someone you know.”

Jim Faber, another NYBC donor recruiter, said he could not agree more.

“The blood that’s given here, stays here,” he said. “By donating, students are protecting their fellow students, families, and loved ones.”

Dave Grossman, a first year law student, said he felt the blood drives were great for the St. John’s community.

“It’s a great cause,” he said. “It’s good service to your community and to others. There’s no downside.”

Donors at recent blood drives have not left empty-handed, as each participant was given a free pair of Mets tickets for their contribution.

Mardavich said he believes the incentive of free baseball tickets was not the main reason why students donated.

“The Mets tickets were a great idea, but that’s not what brought the kids out,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of these kids are just here to save a life.”

Ryan said he agrees.

“We only offer Mets tickets a few times a year and there has been a steady, dramatic increase of donations during the last three years,” he said.

“I think this has really become a part of campus life and the students have fully embraced it,” he said.