Geneva High School students donate blood, write letters to seniors and veterans during Week of Giving

Ashley Michelli sat back in a donor chair, giving her first blood donation.

“It is definitely different,” said Michelli, 17, a junior at Geneva High School. “It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

The school’s Week of Giving April 22-26 encouraged students to give blood, write notes to veterans, seniors and others, as well as collect donations of food, books and pet supplies for Anderson Humane.

Versiti Blood Center in Geneva collected their blood donations on Wednesday and they wrote notes in all their English classes. Donation bins were set up in the school’s lobby for the other items being collected.

Next to Michelli was Maggie Tweed, also a 17-year-old junior ready to give blood for the first time as well.

“It’s a good opportunity because I wouldn’t have thought to donate blood if it wasn’t through the school,” Tweed said.

Jordan Hayes, 17, also a junior, was waiting her turn.

“I think giving blood is a wonderful way to reach people and it allows a greater connection and a greater number of people to be helped,” Hayes said.

She had already written her letter in English class to her mother.

“I gave a thank-you note to my mother to give back the love she always gives to our family,” Hayes said.

Elise Erhart, 17, was one of the few who knew her blood type: O negative, considered the universal blood type because it can be safely given to people of any blood type.

“My mom worked in a pharmacy and my grandma was a labor and delivery nurse and she knew all the questions to ask as soon as I was born,” Erhart said about knowing her blood type.

Another O negative donor, Owen Miller, 17, said his physical education teacher excused him so he could donate.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Miller said. “And it’s a good thing for high school students to do to get them started young so they can do it in the future.”

Amanda Gould, a paraprofessional at the school, also made a donation right along with the students. She knew personally of the importance of blood donation because of complications during her daughter’s birth two years ago.

“I needed some blood myself,” Gould said. “So knowing it was readily available and I was able to be the best self that I can so I could take care of my daughter. I’ve been donating blood since high school.”

Dean Susan Shrader stated in an email that the school collected 49 units of blood.

One pint of blood can save up to three lives, according to the American Red Cross, as whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma for surgery, to treat illness or respond to traumatic injury.

In Corinne Backman’s English class, students wrote notes on small brightly colored cards to Operation Gratitude for active military, Love for Our Elders and The World Needs More Love Letters.

Backman would collect the notes to forward to the organizations.

Jacob Grimm, 17, had just come from donating blood and sat with Hunter Finn, 17, Dom Savarese, 17, and Will Larsen, 16 in their pod, all writing to veterans.

Finn said both his grandfathers served in the military — his paternal grandfather was in the Air Force and his maternal grandfather served in the Navy.

“Veterans probably go unappreciated a lot,” Larsen said. “They come home and they’re just regular people, but they’re not, really. They’ve done more than others realize.”

“Thank you for all that you do for our country,” Larsen wrote. “I have multiple family members serve and I know how much words of encouragement are appreciated. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed.”

At another pod, Allison Mayer, 17, Rachael Rudigier, 17, and Evellyn Gibbons, 16, also wrote notes. Rudigier and Mayer wrote to veterans.

“It is because of you that we are able to sleep soundly at night without having to worry,” Mayer wrote.

“Thank you so much for your service and bravery,” Rudigier wrote.

Gibbons wrote to Dorothy, 92, who lives in Zebulon, North Carolina, a town of fewer than 7,000.

She showed an app on her phone that provided a QR code so she would know who to write to — though she does not know Dorothy’s last name and Dorothy will only know Gibbons’ first name.

“I just want to let you know how loved and appreciated you are,” Gibbons said, as the notes are to be general. “I hope you are having a wonderful day and know that you have a lot of support and love from your family.”

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