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High school blood drive recruiter hopes to save lives

September 16, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

SMITHSBURG

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Kelli Hill, a senior at Smithsburg High School, says the reason for donating blood is a simple one.

"If someone in your family was in the hospital, you'd hope someone was there to donate blood to save their life, said Kelli, a 16-year-old blood drive coordinator for the Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross.

Kelli has recruited about 150 donors and has hit the target of at least 35 donors for each of the four blood drives she has organized, said Teresa Elwood, director of blood services for the local Red Cross.

"She got so good at doing her job, we didn't have to come in (to help) anymore," Elwood said.

Kelli manages a group of student volunteers on blood drive days, and is in charge of setting up, getting students to and from the donation site and cleaning up, Elwood said. Kelli also is responsible for advertising, recruiting and scheduling.

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Elwood said students have gotten local businesses to donate pizzas or have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for donors.

Student government adviser Dottie Crawford said Kelli's organizational skills and leadership qualities were what made things run seamlessly. Crawford said Kelli's attention to detail impressed her the most.

"I just hand everything over to her," Crawford said. "It's a relief to an adviser knowing I can trust these students to do the job, and do it well."

Until this year, Kelli never had the chance to donate blood. Red Cross rules allowed only students 17 and older to donate.

Kelli said not being able to donate frustrated her. One donation - about two cups - is enough to save two or three lives, Elwood said.

The Red Cross lowered the age limit to 16 this year.

"It makes me want to run out and give blood," Kelli said. "I'm so excited."

Kelli will get her first chance to donate at Smithsburg High's October blood drive.

Now that she's able to donate, Kelli said she plans to do it every 56 days, the shortest amount of time people must wait between donations.

"I don't think about the needles because I know there's some little kid in a hospital who needs it," Kelli said.

Lisa Hart, assistant director for resources and development for the local Red Cross, said high school blood drives are critical to the organization's long-term success. Hart said blood drives at Washington County high schools accounted for 13 percent of the 227,429 pints of blood collected in the county last year.

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