Tri-County FFA, Wolcott, Ind., holds blood drives at the high school as a service project to support the community. Officials closed Tri-County schools on March 13 due to COVID-19. The next FFA blood drive was scheduled for March 17. Obviously, it was canceled.
However, that didn’t stop the FFA members and advisors from holding blood drives. It just prompted them to be more creative.
“We work with the American Red Cross with our blood drives,” says Travis Scherer, longtime FFA advisor at Tri-County. “Our principal, J.R. Haskins, was very supportive of making sure we had a new blood drive after the March one was canceled.”
Scherer is assisted by Haley Verhaeghe, Tri-County ag teacher and FFA advisor. Making the first blood drive happen meant both teachers and Tri-County FFA members jumped through lots of hoops and got support from other school personnel, including Superintendent Patrick Culp.
Culp was thorough in checking with local and state officials, including the department of education, on the use of the building for a blood drive, Scherer explains. This was at the same time when many school districts weren’t allowing anyone, including teachers and students, on school property.
“We implemented a plan to have our May blood drive,” Scherer recalls. “We moved the location to the auxiliary gym on the west side of the school to limit traffic into the school. The Red Cross implemented some pandemic safety protocols like requiring masks, health prescreening before entering the blood drive and only allowing scheduled donors inside.”
Make it happen
Student volunteers learned and helped prescreened donors by checking them into the blood drive, Scherer says.
“We really had to pivot as a chapter, because a May drive is normally heavy with student donors,” he notes. “We created a community-driven blood drive during a pandemic.”
Later, the FFA chapter, again working with the Red Cross, held a July blood drive at the Wolcott Community Building.
“We were able to meet our donation goals for each blood drive,” Scherer says.
Other FFA chapters and groups found ways to carry out blood drives or serve their communities in other ways despite the pandemic. Share your story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.