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Colleges Challenge Themselves, Each Other To Give Blood

People on college campuses across the country were responsible for donating seven percent of the American Red Cross blood supply in FY11, an increase of more than three percent over the previous year.

College blood drives are very successful, some doing so well they are among the biggest collections in the country. Many of them are organized by the students, who come up with clever ideas to promote their collection.

At the University of Missouri, the annual Homecoming Blood Drive is strongly supported by the students and surrounding Columbia, Missouri, community. The collection is in its 25th year and surpassed its own expectations this year by going over its 4,000-unit goal and collecting 4,217 blood donations.

Appalachian State University made North Carolina history earlier this year by holding the largest single-day blood drive in the state at their fifth annual homecoming blood drive, netting more than 1,250 donations. Students and staff at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill show their Tar Heel spirit by rolling up their sleeves every year to give blood at the Red Cross blood drive. The 23rd Annual Carolina Blood Drive resulted in 989 blood donations, just shy of the 1,000 pint goal. At North Carolina State University, the school held its first ever 1,000-pint blood drive. With strong Wolfpack support, the goal was surpassed and the Red Cross was able to collect 1,032 blood donations.

The most significant growth was in college-sponsored blood drives, increasing 3.6% over FY10. Click on the graph above for a larger view.

One of the more popular college blood donor recruitment ideas is a challenge to another school. Blood drives are held every year close to the date of the annual Virginia Tech vs. the University of Virginia football game, geared toward fans of the two schools. On the Virginia Military Institute campus, a challenge is issued to the Keydets through the nine Companies on campus.

Another college challenge drive pits Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders against the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers, who went arm to arm this month for the second year in a row. The friendly competition helped the Red Cross collect more than a thousand units of blood. The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University are also challenging each other to determine which student body can give more blood. A trophy has been traveling between the two schools to the winning campus for 10 years.

Every time someone gives blood, their donation can help save more than one life when it is made into blood products such as red cells, platelets and plasma. The need for these donations is constant – every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood.

Every year the Red Cross distributes about 9.2 million blood products to approximately 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Blood products help not only surgical patients and trauma victims, but also burn victims, cancer patients, patients with blood disorders and so many others.

The Red Cross collects about 6.3 million units of blood from approximately 3.7 million volunteer blood donors to be able to furnish blood products for the patients in these hospitals. Eighteen percent of these donations come from blood collections held at high schools and colleges across the nation.

To give blood, individuals must be 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and be in generally good health. People should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.

If someone is eligible and would like to join these young people in giving blood, they can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to find a blood drive and schedule a donation appointment.