Valley High students and staff roll up their sleeves to donate blood at a student-hosted blood drive

Students and staff at Valley High School stepped up Monday to help meet the blood requirement, though some were unable to make it.

Brooke Alcorn Ferry, 17, said some of her classmates who volunteered to donate at the blood drive she organized were unable to because there weren’t enough tall, underweight, or had recent tattoos.

Ferry herself could not give because of her size.

Wanting to become a phlebotomist, Ferry organized the blood drive as part of the community service hours she needs to graduate. She was able to see American Red Cross phlebotomists at work as they received donations at the high school library.

“It’s really interesting to see this all put together,” she said. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to organize this with all the help I received.”

Ferry said Lori Ervin, the district’s gifted program coordinator and sponsor of the Interact club, was a big help. The club helps students do community service.

“She was the one who encouraged me to take this on in the first place,” Ferry said.

Adam Sharick, safety officer at HD Berkey Elementary School in Lower Burrell, was among the first to donate. It was only the second time he had donated blood. A veteran, Sharick served in the Marine Corps.

“Honestly, I have buddies who are here today because they were able to draw blood,” he said.

Registrants had the choice of donating a pint of whole blood or separating their red blood cells and returning the rest.

Donating only red blood cells takes longer, but that’s what high school algebra teacher Josh Tysk chose to do because he had done it before.

The Red Cross calls it a “Gift of Red Power“, thanks to which a donor can donate two units of red blood cells during a donation. Plasma and platelets are returned.

“Blood is something people need,” Tysk said. “It’s important that teachers and staff members support students who support our community by organizing events like this.”

Angela Soles Caruso, a seventh-grade high school learning support teacher, said her father always donated blood and stressed the importance of donating.

“I’m so impressed,” she said of the students’ effort. “They’re so involved and so sincere about it.”

Saying the nation is in a blood crisis, the Red Cross is advocating that all eligible donors make an appointment to donate.

For more information on donating blood, including eligibility and finding a nearby blood drive, visit the American Red Cross websiteredcrossblood.org.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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