Give Life: Encouraging First-Time & Develop Lifetime Blood Donors

I decided to change my platform this pageant season. Although diversity and discrimination is important to me, I am also incredibly passionate about donating blood. I feel like blood donation will be more easy to relate to the judges and the audience, and also there will be more direct results from my involvement. 

Every two seconds someone needs a blood transfusion in the United States of America. Whether it is from a tragic accident or a life threatening disease, these people require the blood from donors in order to survive. Unfortunately, due to a lack of blood donors, our blood supply is extremely low, putting hundreds of lives at risk. As a third generation blood donor, I feel extremely driven to encourage others to donate as well. We need to increase and maintain the supply in our nation’s blood bank. To do this we need to do two things: encourage first time donors and develop lifetime donors.

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Creating lifetime donors first requires establishing first time donors. Through one positive donation experience, many other people are influenced. A new donor will tell at least 3 people and spark questions by others as they wear their bandage with pride. Frequently, many people do not donate simply because they have never been asked to. Increasing the first time donors is possible by partnering with high school clubs (which may already sponsor blood drives) and local businesses near donation sites.

Nearly 20% of blood donors are in high school. Age eligibility requirements allow New York donors to be 17 years old (or 16 with parental permission). Partnering with high school clubs to hold blood drives helps students be directly involved with saving millions of lives. It is possible through semi-annual blood drives and increasing public relations with juniors and seniors in high schools, that we can increase the percentage of students who begin to donate. By encouraging those students to become lifetime donors we will then be able to develop a strong network of donors of a younger generation.

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Adult first time donors are also an important aspect to the American Red Cross. By partnering with local businesses to establish initiatives for donors, new donors will be encouraged to take that first step in saving lives. Through promotional efforts of discounts or coupons for those wearing “I Donated” badges or pins, donors will not only feel good about their decision to donate, but will also have financial incentive.

The impact of the donation itself is encouraging, but there are ways I feel we can make a bigger effect on donor’s perceptions of their donation experience. I will visit the hospitals throughout the Finger Lake region, visiting the patients who have received life-saving blood transfusions, and network with businesses to establish donor initiatives. I will continue to volunteer at the American Red Cross, to connect with blood donors. Connecting the donor with the recipients of blood transfusions allows donors to see how their donation truly can save a life. I plan to create “Thank You” cards to hand out at blood drives with short stories and photos of those whose lives have been saved because of the generosity of blood donors.

Additionally, volunteering with the American Red Cross has provided me with the opportunity to talk with donors and encourage a lifetime commitment. Developing these relationships has led me to realize the necessity of keeping in contact with past donors. Holding phone drives to contact past donors in order to inform them of upcoming blood drives will aide in transforming one-time givers into lifetime donors.

As Miss Finger Lakes, I will be able to use my title as a stepping stone into the lives of students at schools and members in the community. It is my goal to encourage lifesaving blood donations through partnerships with schools, business initiatives, visiting local hospitals, connecting donors to recipients, and contacting past donors. Americans are dying when a cure is found in a simple blood donation, and this is not right. We need our citizens to give the gift of life. Through the Miss Finger Lakes Organization, I hope to become personally responsible for the increase of blood donors in our region, and therefore give life to our beautiful state.

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