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Holy Family gets blood-drive honor





The American Red Cross presented a plaque Wednesday awarding Holy Family Elementary School for being the best elementary school in the state of Kansas to host a blood drive last year. Principal Rachel Wentling accepted the award.

"The Red Cross saves life, and you all are helpers of saving lives," said Catherine Younger, donor recruitment representative from the American Red Cross, addressing a gymnasium packed with students. "You all have become super heroes for the Red Cross. We'd like you to do the same thing this year. Invite your parents, family and friends to help us save lives again."

Holy Family is participating in an American Red Cross sponsored Pint-Size Hero program. The program teaches students the importance of giving blood and asks them to recruit anyone older than 17 to donate. The American Red Cross provides teachers with educational material

In some cases, the students are able to volunteer and assist with the blood drive.

"Because of all the cold weather, we aren't able to do the blood drives we usually do," Younger said. "So we have a major shortage of blood. If you could do me a big favor and invite your family to donate blood, I would appreciate it and all the people in the hospital would appreciate it."

According to the American Red Cross, severe weather across 25 states has forced the cancellation of hundreds of blood drives, therefore there is a great need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative.

"Our goal is to get 22 units of blood," Wentling said. "Last year, we were able to get 20 units of blood. That means with those who donated, we were able to save up to 60 lives."

Wentling said she believes this is a way the school can give back.

"We have so many in our community who are nice to us and help us," Wentling said.

Wentling has donated approximately 45 units of blood during the course of her lifetime.

Each unit of blood has the potential to help three people.

"It's something we can give freely," Wentling said. "It's something we always have that we can give to others. You never know when you or someone in your family will need blood."

The award received by Holy Family was voted on by a panel in Wichita. The school was nominated by Younger, and the panel votes based on size of school, number of recruits and number of donations.

This is the second year for Pint-Size Heroes, and Younger is hoping Holy Family will win again.

"They do such a great job," Younger said. "Rachel really knows how to motivate kids, and she understands the need for blood."

Last year, only grades five and six were able to participate, but Wentling is considering expanding the program school-wide.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do this year since all the kids have already heard about the program," Wentling said. "Our goal is to get 27 recruits, so I'm afraid to open it up to the whole school. We might have more than we can handle."

The blood drive will be from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Jan. 22. Donations are taken by appointment only. To sign up, contact the school office at (785) 635-3131. If interested in hosting a blood drive, contact Younger at (316) 641-1193.