Service and Scholarships

“It’s a good way to let your school connect with your community, letting people come in and see what your school’s all about. Also, it teaches students how to reach out and be active in their community and give back; these are things everyone should know how to do, and it helps you know how to do that.”
-Lainey Campbell

The American Red Cross High School Scholarship Program gives high school students the opportunity to help others, while helping the students as they move on to higher education. The scholarship program is available for high schools that host at least one Red Cross blood drive during the year.

For 17 years, Marty Green has helped successfully run this program at East Peoria High School. The school coordinates five blood drives every year, primarily thanks to the efforts of the students who are involved in the program.

“My role is purely supplemental. If they need something, I get it for them, but other than that, it’s completely driven by students,” says Green. “They come to me, I don’t go to them.”

The larger number of units of blood a school collects, the larger the amount of scholarships are awarded to participating students.

Lainey Campbell played an integral role in the East Peoria High School program the past few years, and received a scholarship for her efforts after graduating earlier this year. She is now using that scholarship to help pay for college.

“It’s very helpful, because college is expensive, so it’s very nice,” she says.

Perhaps more than the financial benefit, Campbell says the life skills she learned while coordinating blood drives and interacting with the community were very helpful for her. She encourages other high school students to get involved at their schools.

“For people who want to work on community service but also want help with funding for college, it’s a great program for that and it really rewards you – it rewards you for doing something outside your comfort zone. A lot of schools like to push leadership, teaching students to give back to their community. If you’re looking for that, it’s a great way to do it.”
-Lainey Campbell

Green, who is retiring after this year, recalls how Campbell and other students have answered the call to take charge of this program during his time being involved with it.

“Each year, a different student steps up to be the leader. They’ll come to me and say, ‘Mr. Green, I’d really like to run this,'” he says. “At the beginning, it was some work to get things going – now, it runs itself. I am fully confident that when I leave, it’s going to keep the momentum.”

Campbell echoes those sentiments, saying other students helped her, even while she was leading the program. She received support from previous student leaders, her fellow school band members and her friends along the way. She says, “I had a lot of support from my friends. I would send them the (blood drive) flyer and ask if they would post it on their Snapchat story or Instagram, and they did.”

Campbell also recalls the positive interaction with Red Cross staff, the day of the first blood drive she hosted. In addition, seeing so many people come in to give blood that day left a lasting effect on her.

“Everyone from the Red Cross I worked with that day was wonderful, they were all so nice and they explained it all to me,” she says. “It was my first experience seeing a community come together for a good deed, giving back to the community.”

By participating in the American Red Cross High School Scholarship Program, your high school can help build a stronger community. Click here to learn more, and to find out how your school can get involved!

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Latina Blood Donor Giving the Gift of Time and Life

Intrigued by blood donation when a mobile donation site came to her place of employment when she worked in downtown Chicago, Tina signed up to give blood and instantly became a loyal donor. Nine gallons and 10 years later, like clockwork, Tina takes time every 8 weeks or so to selflessly give the gift of life. “It costs absolutely nothing but a little bit of your time,” states Tina. “And it gives the gift of more time on earth for someone who needs blood to live.”

Tina hopes her daughters, Anahi and Gia, and generations to come, follow in her footsteps.

Tina has never had a close loved one who has needed blood and doesn’t look for praise or recognition, her reasoning, and decision to be a blood donor, is a simple one, “The more I learned about how blood and platelet donations help others, the more inspired I became to be a recurring donor. Blood saves lives – something money can’t buy. You really don’t know how your simple act of kindness will change someone’s life and it requires so very little of you.”

Tina’s selfless giving and impact is a widespread one. As a Hispanic blood donor, Tina is making a powerful contribution to many patients in need. African American and Latino populations have a higher frequency of type O blood than other ethnicities which can treat a broader cross-section of patients. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease all count on blood donations to battle illness and injury.

Tina’s giving inspired her husband so much so that he is now a bone marrow donor.

After doing further research, Tina decided to be a platelet donor and drives almost an hour on the weekends to do a two-hour platelet donation. Platelets are a key clotting component which need to be transfused within just five days after a donation and are often needed by cancer patients. Tina’s wish is that her platelet donations allow a cancer patient to enjoy and share more time with their loved ones.

“Share your health, and maybe even your lunch hour, go that extra mile for someone you don’t know – you really don’t know how your simple act of kindness will change someone’s life.”

–Tina Rocha Diaz, North Riverside, IL

In the U.S., 62% of the population is eligible to give blood but only 3% do. Are you ready to give the gift of time — and life? Visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation appointment opening near you.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager, Connie Esparza

A New Lease on Life: Terry’s Story

Terry Kenney has common variable immunodeficiency, a disorder that impairs her immune system. Blood donations are playing a big role in significantly improving Terry’s health.

Learn more about her story and how you can give blood, in this short video.

World Blood Donor Day: Gary’s Story

When you hear about the need for blood, what do you think about?

United States Air Force Major Gary Novak (Retired) thinks about the times he cared for wounded soldiers, while flying thousands of feet in the air and having no time to wait for administering lifesaving blood.

Major Novak completed several tours as a Critical Care Flight Nurse for the Air Force Nurse Corps. His dedication and talents helped keep injured service members alive, as did the blood kept on board the aircraft.

We always made sure we took blood with us. A lot of the patients, we had to give so much blood to keep them alive. I saw such a need for that and, because of that, I just feel it’s my duty now to give blood.”
-Major Gary Novak

Major Novak went on to a career as a nurse and continued to see the need for blood on a daily basis. He regularly donates blood, and recently did so at the Danyel Pitts blood drive in Springfield.

He says, “You just never know. The blood you give may save somebody’s life that you know and love. It’s always good to help out where you can.”

Thank you, Major Novak for your brave and selfless service to our country, and for giving the gift of lifesaving blood!

If you would like to give blood, please visit redcrossblood.org.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Giving Blood for the First Time

“I had never donated blood before. I was a little nervous, but I feel good, now.”
-Nahum Rabin

24-year-old Nahum Rabin is a Springfield, Illinois resident and recently gave blood for the first time at a local American Red Cross blood drive. His friend had suggested giving blood, after doing so numerous times herself.

“She was just telling me about donating blood; she’s done it a few times in the past,” said Rabin. “After she told me about it, I realized it does help people and it is something good to do, to give back to the community. I decided to do it.”

When asked if he would consider a repeat visit to give blood in the future, here was Rabin’s reply:

“For sure, I would definitely do it again, especially if it could help somebody. It felt like I was only in there for 10 minutes, tops. I’m young, I have enough blood. It’s always good to help somebody.”

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. If you have never donated blood before, here are some resources for you, and a look at what to expect when you go to donate.

Visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment at a blood drive or blood collection facility near you. Thank you to Nahum and all who give the gift of lifesaving blood!

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Inspirando a los latinos a donar sangre que salva vidas

Inspirando a los latinos a donar sangre que salva vidas

Para las hermanas Cynthia e Irma Torres, su dedicación a la donación de sangre nació por amor y en memoria de su padre Luis, quien falleció de linfoma en 2013.

Nacidas y criadas en La Villita, un vibrante barrio mexicano-estadounidense en Chicago conocido como La Villita, entre una familia y comunidad muy unida, ambas hermanas sostienen el significado de comunidad y atienden a la necesidad cuando esta se presenta. Este fue uno de los valores familiares fundamentales que ambos padres les inculcaron: ustedes se unen para servir a los necesitados. Desde 2013, ambas hermanas responden a la necesidad donando sangre.

“Después de mi primera donación, realmente sentí que estaba haciendo una diferencia y solo me hizo querer seguir ayudando a los demás. Gracias a las muchas personas que donaron antes que yo, mi padre pudo recibir lo que necesitaba en su momento de necesidad”, explicó Cynthia. “Busco continuamente campañas de donación de sangre que estén cerca de casa y programo tiempo libre en el trabajo para asistir. Mi padre era un hombre desinteresado que siempre estaba disponible para familiares y amigos en su momento de necesidad. Él sin duda apoyaría y animaría a mi hermana y a mí a donar tan a menudo como podamos, especialmente porque los latinos no donan sangre de forma rutinaria”.

Los hispanos son la parte de más rápido crecimiento de la población de los Estados Unidos, sin embargo, solo un pequeño porcentaje de hispanos dona sangre. Las poblaciones afroamericanas y latinas tienen una mayor frecuencia de sangre tipo O que otras etnias que pueden tratar una representativa más amplia de pacientes.

“Los grupos minoritarios no son donantes de sangre de rutina como podríamos serlo, y puede ser algo tan simple como el miedo a lo desconocido. Si podemos inspirar a los estudiantes latinos de secundaria y universitarios a donar, generar conciencia y llevar este mensaje a sus vecindarios, el proceso sería menos desalentador”, afirmó Irma. “Donar sangre es como votar por mí, es mi deber proporcionar sangre a los muchos que la necesitan”.

Irma y Cynthia en su donación de sangre más reciente muestran con orgullo sus botellas de agua de la Cruz Roja.

El legado de su padre incluye un hijo, cinco nietos y preciados recuerdos de risas, familia y unidad. Tanto Cynthia como Irma están comprometidas a seguir siendo donantes de sangre en memoria de su padre durante todo el tiempo que puedan y desean inspirar a sus familiares y amigos a hacer lo mismo.

Es importante saber que, como donante de sangre hispano, realiza una poderosa contribución a muchos pacientes que lo necesitan. Víctimas de accidentes y quemaduras, pacientes de cirugía cardíaca y trasplante de órganos, y aquellos que reciben tratamiento para la leucemia, el cáncer o la enfermedad de células falciformes cuentan con donaciones de sangre para combatir enfermedades y lesiones.

En este Día Mundial del Donante de Sangre, la Cruz Roja de Illinois extiende su más profunda gratitud a todos los donantes de sangre que desinteresadamente dan el regalo de la vida y alientan a las personas de todas las razas y etnias a donar sangre para ayudar a garantizar que el producto sanguíneo correcto esté disponible para aquellos wue lo necesitan. Las donaciones de sangre disminuyen a fines de la primavera y principios del verano, especialmente durante las semanas de vacaciones, ¡pero la necesidad de transfusiones de sangre y plaquetas no se toma un descanso de verano!

Visite redcrossblood.org para encontrar una cita de donación de sangre abierta cerca de usted.

Escrito por la Gerente de Comunicaciones de la Región de Illinois de la Cruz Roja, Connie Esparza

Inspiring Latinos to Donate Lifesaving Blood

Inspiring Latinos to Donate Lifesaving Blood

For sisters Cynthia and Irma Torres, their dedication to blood donation was born out of love and in memory of their father Luis, who passed away from lymphoma in 2013.

Born and raised in Little Village, a vibrant Mexican-American neighborhood in Chicago known as La Villita, amongst a tight-knit family and community, both sisters embrace and sustain the meaning of community and attending to a need when this presents itself. This was one of the fundamental family values both parents instilled in them—you come together to serve those in need. Since 2013, both sisters have been answering the need by donating blood.

“After my first donation, I truly felt like I was making a difference and it only made me want to continue to help others. Thanks to the many people that donated before me, my father was able to receive what he needed in his time of need,” explained Cynthia. “I continually look for blood drives that are close to home and will schedule time-off of work to attend. My father was a self-less man who was always available for family and friends in their time of need. He would certainly support and encourage my sister and I to donate as often as we can especially because Latinos don’t routinely donate blood.”

Hispanics are the fastest growing part of the United States population, yet only a small percentage of Hispanics donate blood. African American and Latino populations have a higher frequency of type O blood than other ethnicities which can treat a broader cross-section of patients.

“Minority groups are not routine blood donors as we could be, and it may be something as simple as fear of the unknown. If we can inspire Latino high school and college students to donate, raise awareness, and bring this message home to their neighborhoods, the process would be made less daunting,” stated Irma. “Donating blood is like voting for me, it’s my duty to provide blood for the many who need it.”

Irma and Cynthia at their most recent blood donation proudly display their Red Cross water bottles.

Their father’s legacy includes a son, five grandchildren, and cherished memories of laughter, family, and unity. Both Cynthia and Irma are committed to remain active blood donors in memory of their father for as long as they can and wish to inspire their family and friends to do the same.

It’s important to know that as a Hispanic blood donor, you make a powerful contribution to many patients in need. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease all count on blood donations to battle illness and injury.

On this World Blood Donor Day, the Red Cross of Illinois extends our deepest gratitude to all blood donors who selflessly give the gift of life and encourage people of all races and ethnicities to donate blood to help ensure the right blood product is available to those in need. Blood donations decline in late spring and early summer –especially during holiday weeks – but the need for blood and platelet transfusions doesn’t take a summer break!

Please visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation appointment opening near you.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager, Connie Esparza

Employee Spotlight: Shaquetta Booker

I love my job, because I love the fact we are saving lives. I definitely enjoy being on the front line. I like to serve people and make people feel great.”
-Shaquetta Booker

Shaquetta Booker is a team supervisor at the American Red Cross blood donation center in Bloomington, Illinois.

Shaquetta started working for the Red Cross five years ago, and it was family that led her to go into this career. Her mother passed away due to cancer and needed blood during her battle with the disease.

Shaquetta learned how the Red Cross works to help provide that blood, while caring for her mother. She wanted to be a part of this process and help others.

“There is definitely a need for blood every day. Someone needs blood all the time. I love that people come out to help others,” she says. “When we are out here helping people, that’s a great thing to do. If that’s something you are willing to do, it doesn’t take much, it doesn’t cost anything and it’s definitely something that is needed.”

When she is not working, Shaquetta enjoys spending time with her children and family in Decatur. Thank you, Shaquetta for being an important part of our biomedical team!

Please visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation appointment opening near you.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Challenge on 74: Illinois State University vs Bradley University Blood Battle

The Challenge on 74 brought in blood donors from Illinois State University and Bradley University, to help bolster the American Red Cross blood supply.

The Redbird Red Cross Club took on the Bradley Red Cross Club for bragging rights and while there could only be one winner of this battle, the real winners are the people who will receive lifesaving blood during their time of need, because of these blood donations.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this event!

Please visit redcrossblood.org to find a location near you and schedule an appointment to donate blood.

Village of Romeoville Blood Drive Reaches 1,000 Unit Collection Milestone

The Village of Romeoville, Illinois started hosting regular blood drives for the American Red Cross when the global pandemic began in early 2020. They stepped up to take after when the Red Cross saw an increased need for blood donors to help sustain local hospitals during those days of uncertainty.

After having blood drives held regularly over the past two years, 1,021 units of blood have been collected!

On Monday, March 14 the momentous 1,000th unit of blood was donated by long-time and regular donor Kathleen Gubbins.

Thank you to the Village of Romeoville and community for supporting these blood drives and helping us achieve moments like this.

Phlebotomist Joseph Peshel holds the 1,000th unit of donated blood from the Village of Romeoville drives

To sign up to give blood soon please visit www.redcrossblood.org.