Northmont cadets Alexus Swindle and Jasmine Pennix with NJROTC instructor and blood drive chairman Jim Griffin.

The Northmont High School NJROTC cadets are on a marathon pace to log 2,000 hours of community service this academic year, much of it before Christmas. That includes hitting the road to volunteer at the Air Force Marathon. But first they rolled up their sleeves Thursday, Sept. 13 as the sponsor group of Northmont’s first fall semester Community Blood Center (CBC) school blood drive
Northmont traditionally hosts a monster blood drive in the spring. More than 270 students registered for the “Out for Blood” blood drive last March. Northmont was open to the idea of adding a second blood drive to the schedule, and the NJROTC stepped up to be the sponsor.
“We’re always trying to do something for the community,” said NJROTC instructor and blood drive chairman Jim Griffin. “This was right up our alley. The timing was right and we jumped on it.”
The Navy junior cadets jumped on it with both feet and both flippers! The goals were modest for a first-ever drive and it was held in Northmont’s smaller gym. The drive registered 104 students and collected 84 donations, reaching 108 percent of goal. It drew 48 first-time blood donors, and many of those were NJROTC members who rushed to fill empty appointment slots, particularly at the end of the drive.
“I wanted to do it last year,” said senior NJROTC member Tyler Garlitz, who plans to follow his older brother into the Air Force after graduation. The fall drive gave him a new opportunity to become a first-time donor. “I was 16 last year and didn’t have my parent permission signed,” he said. “But this time I didn’t have to worry about it!”
“I hadn’t done it before, and I do want to save a life,” said senior Shontel Hopson as she made her first donation. NJROTC seniors Alexus Swindle and Jasmine Pennix volunteered in the Donor Café during the drive. “It’s a lot of hard work!” Alexus said about planning the drive, as she snapped photos for the school yearbook. “It’s great for the NJROTC to be involved and other students as well,” said Jasmine.
“I think it’s a good idea to be able to have a blood drive twice in a year,” said senior Katelyn Lauber, who made her second lifetime donation Thursday. “It’s not only good for us; it’s good for all the people we’re helping.”
Northmont NJROTC has won the Area Championships four years straight, has finished in the top 10 of the Navy Nationals the last three years, and has won the Distinguished Unit award the last nine years. NJROTC Instructor Lt. Col. Ken Knotts praised the cadets for their community service and was optimistic about sponsoring a fall drive again next year – as long as it isn’t the same week as the Air Force Marathon. “We might move it a week later next year,” he said. A little breathing room is good idea for a group of cadets who keep a very brisk pace as they serve the community.

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