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The Carletonian

Carleton hosts first Red Cross blood drive of the year

On Monday, Oct. 30, and Tuesday, Oct. 31, Carleton hosted a blood drive in collaboration with the Red Cross. The blood drive is one of three that will occur over the 2023-2024 academic year. The Center for Community and Civic Engagement has worked with the Red Cross for over a decade to bring the drive to campus. 


Juniors Frankie Saraniti and Nithin Poreddy helped run the drive this year. Planning begins long before the term: Saraniti and Poreddy remarked that the CCCE has to start the preparation over a year in advance. Logistical challenges — such as reserving the Great Hall and parking for the vans — require substantial foresight. The students also assisted with other aspects of putting on the event, such as “fill[ing] out an online request form to get lemonade, water and cookies, ordering pizza, […] creating a volunteer schedule [and] getting the word out that this is happening.” The CCCE is an important partner in managing those more difficult factors. 


The broader Northfield community often comes together to assist with the drive. This year, the Northfield Domino’s Pizza donated eight pizzas for volunteers and donors. Although many donors are students, numerous community members are regulars at the event. The organizers work closely with CCCE fellow Brian Kaplan ’25 and a representative from the Red Cross, who helps coordinate between the CCCE, the Red Cross and student volunteers. 


A lot of Saraniti and Poreddy’s work involves getting students and community members to show their support. Two weeks before the event, organizers started sending out campus announcements in the hopes that students would sign up to donate or help assist in running the drive. Students can volunteer to help check in donors and facilitate the drive. Saraniti and Poreddy said that they do not struggle with getting enough donors. Before publicizing the event, some Northfield community members have usually already signed up to donate. And once students are made aware, they also sign up to donate or help in large numbers. Each day of the drive has around 80 appointments, which are typically all filled. 


Red Cross employees, not students, are responsible for the actual collection. Saraniti described the workers as “accepting,” “communicative,” “funny and just […] great people to be taking blood,” which helps assure first-time or nervous donors about the safety and importance of giving blood. 


Saraniti described the staff as “really awesome.” When she donates, she lets “them know, ‘hey, I just don’t want to look at [the needle].’ I don’t want to see it until it’s not visible. They’re really great about making it an environment where I can control what I’m able to see [and] do — they’re very communicative.” Poreddy added that the workers also “keep an eye on everybody after they donate, just to make sure everyone’s okay.” The entire staff even wore their Halloween costumes to the drive.


The drive represents a unique opportunity to volunteer on campus. Unlike donating blood in town, Saraniti said that donation is “easy and kind of like how we do the flu and like COVID-19 vaccination clinics. It’s just a little bit easier to fit into your very busy Carleton schedule,” compared to other local alternatives. 


Another typical concern the organizers see from students is a worry they are ineligible to donate. For example, those with low iron levels are often politely asked to donate only when their levels are higher, but both students stressed that this suggestion is not prohibitive. Furthermore, there are easy ways to raise iron levels to donate: “some leafy greens like spinach, [and] other forms of iron that you can be consuming about a week before to […] increase your hemoglobin levels.” They also emphasized the low risk of any adverse health consequences of donating. The event always has a “ton of really yummy snacks […] some sugar cookies, Oreos, the whole shebang” to help with any potential drops in blood sugar. 

If you missed this drive but want to donate in the future, keep an eye out for announcements about the Winter and Spring Term opportunities. The Red Cross stresses the importance of giving blood to help ensure a reliable blood supply for patients. If you want to donate blood, the Red Cross outlines eligibility on its website.

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About the Contributor
Bea Culligan
Bea Culligan, Social Media Manager and News Editor
Bea (she/her) is a sophomore intended political science major from Los Angeles, California. She is interested in all things news, but most of all, what is happening at Carleton! Bea was previously a Staff Writer.

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    LorennNov 11, 2023 at 10:00 am

    Inspiring to know students are working to help the community on top of all their academic work at C.