At the American Red Cross, volunteers do extraordinary things. Saajan Bhakta is one of those people. This fall he begins his first year of college and his second decade as a Red Cross volunteer.
Growing in Service
Bhakta volunteers with the Central Plains Blood Services Region in Wichita, Kansas. When he was just eight years old, he would come into the office with his mother, also a Red Cross volunteer, and sort mail. This fall 18-year-old Bhakta is a member of the Region’s Executive Board of Directors and is working to raise awareness about the need for blood.
“I am beyond passionate about giving the gift of life,” he says. “Just the feeling of giving someone another chance at life makes my heart smile.”
Bhakta certainly walks the talk. When in middle school, he volunteered at the blood donation center after school, labeling postcards inviting donors to visit a local blood drive. At age 15, he began volunteering in the donation center and at blood drives. The following year, Bhakta was old enough to give blood with parental consent. He donates whenever he is eligible and also brings friends along to give. He has personally donated 12 pints of blood—that’s just about a gallon-and-a-half.
Last summer Bhakta coordinated his first blood drive, an experience he calls “his most memorable memory with the Red Cross.” He talks about how much fun it was to plan and recruit blood donors, and how exciting it was “to see that so many people were eager to give the gift of life.” He has now coordinated three drives, resulting in 26 new donors and 80 pints of blood.
Bhakta has founded his own nonprofit, PovSolve, through which he helps fight hunger in India and in Wichita. He has amassed several service awards, including appointment to the American Red Cross National Youth Council, the Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship and a Prudential Spirit of Community Award State Honoree.
More impressive than the list of Bhakta’s awards – the words used to describe Bhakta by people who work with him. “He is truly an amazing young man and a wonderful gift to our community,” said Terri Dunaway, chief executive officer of the Central Plains Blood Services region.
Join the Movement
Thousands of young volunteers help the American Red Cross fulfill its mission. Youth volunteers serve throughout the Red Cross, activity this year is concentrated on organizing blood drives, teaching people how to prepare for disasters and raising funds.