By Tishanna Mayes

CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – Students and visitors gathered in the Connector Building at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey, on April 18 for a Red Cross Blood Drive.

Marissa Gargano relaxes and eats snacks after donating blood. By Tishanna Mayes, CCC Journalism Program

The event was open to anyone who wanted to donate blood to the foundation. The blood that is donated goes toward many good causes for people who need it, such as babies, cancer patients and surgery patients.

Richard Lanzalotti, 64, a visitor, stated, “I’ve been to 30 blood drives. I donate every six weeks because I’m a good person and love to help others.”

About his recommendation for people considering donating blood, he said, “Absolutely do it. It’s almost like voting. You gotta do it.”

Marissa Gargano, 22, a nursing major at Rutgers in Camden, said, “This is my first time (donating blood). I was a little nervous but not too much since I’m not very squeamish, which is good.”

Gargano explained. “I really wanted to help, as well as figure out my blood type since I couldn’t find any records of it. It’s not as bad as you’d think and it’s for a great cause and you’re doing a good thing by giving blood to those who need it so it feels good to do.”

Karen Steinhagen, 73, a volunteer for the foundation for almost seven years, helped keep track of the people who signed in. “When I retired, I needed something to do and I felt this was a good way to give back to the community,” Steinhagen stated.

The drives are for appointments only but if there is room, they accept walk-ins. Donors can sign up and wait. Donors must show a form of identification that has a photo of them and their birth date, such as a passport or driver’s license.

Steinhagen said students came by to donate blood “mostly as walk-ins, that’s if they know the drive is here but there’s not a lot, only a few stop by and sign up to donate blood.”

After signing in and waiting, donors were asked to fill out paperwork, see their blood types and determine if they can safely donate.

A donor holds her blood drive shirt. By Tishanna Mayes, CCC Journalism Program

Steinhagen advised people wanting to donate blood, “Just come. The staff is helpful and they’re all experienced.” She added, “Make sure to eat and hydrate the day before and of your appointment because that helps the blood flow.”

Once their paperwork was filled out and they were qualified to donate blood, donors were escorted to a bed where a nurse drew their blood. The donors were laid down to help with any lightheadedness for a few minutes before they were allowed to leave. Once they were done resting, they were escorted to a table that held snacks and water so they could replenish and recharge. The donors also received a T-shirt to take home as well as the satisfaction of participating in a good cause. 

Look for a local blood drive here.

Find out if you’re eligible to donate here.

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