SAN BENITO — While entering the high school gymnasium yesterday, several students could be seen walking around with a colorful Band-Aid on their arm and a bottle of water in hand — an indication that they’ve contributed to saving several people’s lives.
More than 200 students donated blood to Vitalant, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit community blood service provider, formerly known as United Blood Services.
According to Vitalant personnel, every donation has the opportunity to save up to 12 premature babies and up to three adults.
Vitalant donor recruitment representative Sonia Guajardo Partida says San Benito High School hosts the largest high school blood drive in Texas and New Mexico.
“All of the high schools in Texas and New Mexico ask us, ‘What are you doing at San Benito High School that is so right, because it’s the largest one,’” Partida said. “Some of the things that we say is that it has to be the support from the administrators from the very top right down to our students and our volunteers.”
For the past three days, more than 150 Health Occupations Students of America and Practicum One students helped coordinate and organize the school’s blood drive by completing tasks such as distributing applications and snacks, presenting educational PowerPoint’s and checking the vital signs of blood donors.
San Benito High School nursing assistant instructor and blood drive organizer Aaron Cantu said the school’s blood drives continue to grow and receive more student participation every year.
He believes the blood drive is both beneficial for the people receiving the donations and for the students who are volunteering and gaining nursing experience.
Senior HOSA students Lizette Hernandez and Kayla Camarillo both want to pursue a career in the health industry. This is their third year volunteering with the blood drive.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us because it’s more of a hands-on learning experience and I think it will really help us with our careers,” Hernandez said.
Camarillo said knowing that she’s contributing to a beneficial cause and helping to save many people’s lives feels great.
Cantu said at the end of the day, the students are the reason why the high school hosts the most successful blood drives.
“They’re the ones donating and working with the blood drive so without them, seriously, this wouldn’t be possible,” he said. “I’m very proud and happy with all of them.”
According to Partida, 100 percent of the donations will help patients in the Valley.
“What the students are doing is that they’re donating it selflessly for somebody who needs it,” she said. “So, this is the most amazing part that students are giving the gift of life to somebody that they don’t know.”
High school senior Israel Macias donated blood for the first time and recommends that everyone try it at least once to help spread the love and help that they can provide.
“I was a little nervous at first to donate blood, but the people that helped out today did a really good job at making me feel calm and comfortable,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I feel like a hero, but I have a feeling that I did something good for someone.”
San Benito High School will host its next blood drives with Vitalant on Jan. 23 and May 22.