Students donate blood for Cesar Chavez legacy

HARLINGEN — Carlos Obregon was already wearing the Cesar Chavez blood donor’s T shirt, which was being given to participants in the National Cesar Chavez blood drive challenge at Texas State Technical College yesterday.

After all, Obregon, 20, helped organize the event with the South Texas Migrant Association student group, and he was scheduled to donate at 3 p.m.

“I’m a migrant and we’re trying to raise awareness about Cesar Chavez,” Obregon said. “We are giving back by donating blood.”

The blood drive is happing today and tomorrow in the student services parking lot at TSTC from 9 to 3:30 p.m.

Many TSTC students were waiting in line to donate, or were setting up appointments between class for a chance to participate in the blood drive.

“It’s awesome that the migrant club is helping out,” said Rosie Esparza, donor relations organizer for United Blood Services.

Every 20 minutes, two people went into the United Blood Services traveling bus equipped to draw blood from six donors at a time.

The South Texas Migrant Association student group wanted to raise awareness and commemorate the life and legacy of the labor leader who fought for the rights of farm workers, and one way of doing that was to organize the campus blood drive.

Obregon, a computer management technology student, organized the event with his classmates in the STMA. The campus organization has been active for more than two years.

The students are commemorating Chavez’s life work and his March 31 birthday with the event.

The founding members of the STMA group teamed up with United Blood Services to collect blood for the Rio Grande Valley.

“We’re looking for 38 units of blood and so far we’ve had a great turnout,” Esparza said. “As long as we reach our goal, we’re on the right track.”

Esparza said the Valley needs 178 units of blood a day to maintain the daily supply needs of the Valley.

“A lot of times we don’t have a great turnout,” Esparza said. “But because they are helping us we are having a great turnout.”

Obregon said the event was to thank Chavez for standing up for migrant farm worker rights.

“As migrant students we raise awareness to other students to let them know what we do and about our experiences as migrants,” Obregon said. “We know what it’s like to work in the fields as little kids.”

Obregon said he started working with his father picking vegetables in Harlingen when he was 13 years old. Now the Obregon family works in the meat packing sheds in San Antonio.