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School Blood Donor Program Yields College Perks

School Blood Donor Program Yields College Perks

January is National Blood Donor Month. The American Red Cross High School Leadership Program is encouraging youth participation in the blood program and offering recognition for individual efforts.

The program invites high school students to donate blood three times, volunteer for eight hours for the Red Cross and enlist five others to give blood during the course of their high school years.

With each completed task, the students receive escalating rewards—a Red Cross “Red Cord” and pin to wear during graduation ceremonies, with the school’s approval; an opportunity to win a $5,000 scholarship; and a personalized letter of recommendation from the executive of their local Red Cross Blood Region for college or job applications.

Joseph Zachary, a senior at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Neb., recently completed the program. And while the incentives for college were enticing, he found that serving the Red Cross turned out to be the real reward.

“It’s a good way to give back to people,” he said. “I’m healthy and able to donate, and I feel like it’s my obligation to go ahead and do so.”

Zachary hopes to study business in the fall at Notre Dame, Creighton University or De Paul University, and he is already using his recommendation letter in his college applications.

In its inaugural year, the High School Leadership program has successfully encouraged youth to donate blood and get involved with the Red Cross. More than 9,500 high school students signed up to participate. The program has generated more than 6,600 blood donations, more than 6,900 volunteer hours and brought in over 1,900 new blood donors or donors who have not donated in at least four years.

Students can join the High School Leadership Program by signing up online or going to

How to Give Blood

Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.