Volunteering at Red Cross Blood Drives to Help Save Lives

Tomeka Bostic
I get a great satisfaction from making a difference in the community and talking with others about why giving blood is so important.

It takes thousands of volunteers to support American Red Cross blood drives across the country each day, and every volunteer has a special reason for giving back.

MEET KEVIN THOMAS At age 14, Kevin Thomas was not yet eligible to give blood, but that didn’t stop him from recruiting others to lend an arm. His action was sparked two years ago when he met a young girl in his brother’s class who had leukemia and was receiving blood and platelet transfusions while undergoing treatment.

“I started volunteering at blood drives for the Red Cross because I felt that I should help in some way, even if I’m not old enough to donate,” said Thomas.

Each month, Thomas greets donors at the registration desk or in the refreshment area. Additionally, two weekends each year, he sets up an informational table at local churches and asks members to commit to rolling up a sleeve. He also helped coordinate a blood drive at his church, where more than 50 pints were collected.

“I get a great sense of satisfaction from making a difference in the community and talking with others about why giving blood is so important,” said Thomas.

In 2012, Thomas received the Youth Leadership award at a Red Cross volunteer recognition event. He just celebrated his 16th birthday and looks forward to his first blood donation later this month.

MEET TOMEKA BOSTIC Tomeka Bostic is an up-and-coming blood drive coordinator and volunteer with the Red Cross. As co-chair of the first Diverse Community Action Board (DCAB) in the Carolinas Blood Services Region, Bostic’s efforts with the Red Cross focus on minority blood donation. The board is designed to encourage and increase the support of blood donations from various ethnic groups.

Bostic knows firsthand about the need for a sufficient and diverse blood supply. Her father was diagnosed with cancer about 13 years ago and had to undergo blood transfusions.

“The numbers are startling,” said Bostic. “African-Americans make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but less than one percent of this population actually donates. I want to educate minority communities on the need for blood and get them to donate on a more consistent basis.”

The DCAB held its first drive this past February in Charlotte, N.C., collecting 83 pints of lifesaving blood. Bostic was thrilled with the turnout and is looking forward to even more successful diversity board blood drives.

“The more I do for the community, the more I want to do,” said Bostic. “There are so many various needs in the community, and I am grateful and thankful that I can give back in any way.”

MEET RODGER AND JANET MARSHALL Rodger and Janet Marshall became Red Cross blood services volunteers about 10 years ago. Janet started working in the refreshment area at her local blood donation center, thanking donors and passing out snacks and drinks. Rodger got behind the wheel as a driver delivering blood to hospitals.

Eventually, the Marshalls teamed up on the road, with Janet keeping her husband company on his deliveries. As retired farmers, they enjoy their drives through rural Illinois, checking out crops on their way. But it’s not just scenery that keeps them volunteering.

“One time walking through a hospital a man saw us with the Red Cross blood boxes and said, ‘that’s for my wife’,” Janet recalled. “He was probably wrong, but it was a touching moment.”

THANK A VOLUNTEER This National Volunteer Week, the Red Cross thanks the many dedicated volunteers nationwide who coordinate blood drives, recruit blood and platelet donors, deliver lifesaving blood products and roll up a sleeve to give.

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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.