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St. Clair Shores

February 5, 2013

Big heroes, small package

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

Every pint can save three lives, and the American Red Cross says it’s never too early to learn that fact.

That’s why the organization is teaming up with local “pint size heroes” to spread the word about blood donation, most recently at Rodgers Elementary School Jan. 29.

“We try to educate the students of the importance of helping their community and that they’re not too little to do something to help,” said Carmen Timm, donor resources representative for the American Red Cross in southeast Michigan. “I tell them, ‘I don’t know where you live, I don’t know your parents, so it’s a really important job for you to go home and talk about why they should support the blood drive.”

Second-grade teacher and Student Council adviser Mistie Ryan said the American Red Cross contacted the school about its “Everyday Pint Size Heroes” program, then came and spoke at an assembly about the importance of blood and donation. The students were then asked to go home and ask adults they know to donate, since they can’t donate, themselves, until they are 16 years old.

In return, the adult donors received cards from Student Council that thank them “for being a life saver,” with a candy treat included.

The Red Cross gave every student who brought in an adult donor a notebook, pencil and erasers as a thank you.

“I think it’s good for them to learn,” said Samantha Washburn, of Chesterfield Township, donating blood for the first time because of her second-grade stepson, Franklin, who is a member of Student Council at Rodgers Elementary.

For his part, 8-year-old Franklin said it’s important to get people to donate blood “so other people can have their life saved.” He was proud to be a pint size hero, with both his stepmother and his mother coming to give blood during the event.

Timm said they had a goal of 31 units collected and exceeded that by two extra units, “which is wonderful.”

The local Red Cross supports 43 hospitals in southeast Michigan.

“We need to have the blood when the hospitals need it. Bringing the blood drive to the school makes it much more convenient,” she said.

And she said the children who participate now by recruiting adult donors will be more apt to donate when they are in high school and old enough to participate.

“This is how we hope to build these lifetime donors that we need to sustain the blood supply,” Timm said. “This is something they truly can do to make a difference and something they’ll remember.”

Just a few hours into the drive, it was already making an impact on some of the older students at the elementary school.

“It’s important,” said Ashleigh Deveroux-Tucker, a 10-year-old fifth-grade Student Council representative. “You might die or something. I don’t want people to go through that. Our Student Council cares about the people who are in need of blood.”

Ryan said every project they do with Student Council focuses on how the members can help the community.

“It’s important for … (the) students to be involved in the community,” she said.

The 24 members of Student Council, in first through fifth grades, have also helped Cops For Kids and Wigs 4 Kids in the past, as well, she said.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Jessica Agbay of Roseville, whose first-grade son attends the school. “Teaching the children to think of others and help our community.”

She said, without the event, she probably wouldn’t have made an appointment on her own.

“It will teach them … how everybody is able to help make a difference in someone else’s life,” she added.

Cheryl MacLean, of St. Clair Shores, agreed.

“It was a good idea,” said the mother of a fifth-grade son at the school.

She said she attended the original assembly, which made an impact on her son because his grandfather just died from leukemia.

“Jacob was kind of familiar with platelets and transfusions” because of the experience, she said. “I think it was a good idea. He … understands the importance of it.”

Other schools wishing to host a pint size heroes blood drive can contact Carmen Timm at carmen. timm@redcross.org or call (313) 549-7053. There is a special need right now for O-negative blood. To donate, visit www.red crossblood.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.