The Northmont High School NJROTC cadets learned a lesson a year ago after sponsoring Northmont’s new fall semester blood drive.  Don’t schedule a community service project for the same weekend as the Air Force Marathon, or you’ll end up with a marathon weekend of volunteering!

You can’t blame the young Navy cadets for their esprit de corps.  After all, their annual goal is to log 2,000 hours of community volunteer work, so they like staying busy.  On Friday, Oct. 18 they were back in the NHS small gym hosting the second annual Community Blood Center (CBC) Northmont fall blood drive – but this time the event was a convenient four weeks after their weekend of volunteering at the Air Force Marathon.

Northmont traditionally hosts a massive blood drive in the spring (and the March 8, 2013 blood drive was again on target with 229 registrations and 175 donations).  When Northmont added a fall blood drive in September of 2012 the NJROTC stepped up as sponsor.

“We try to do 2,000 hours of volunteer work, and that’s about 20 per kid,” said Naval Science Instructor and blood drive coordinator Senior Chief Jim Griffin, USN (RET). “Some were here at six this morning helping get things rolling.  By the time they clean-up, etc. they’ll have worked eight hours. Some of the same ones also donated.”

Friday’s blood drive was a success with 84 registrations, including 44 first-time donors, and 62 blood donations.

Senior Naval Science Instructor Lt. Col. Ken Knotts, USMC (RET) hoped for a bigger turn-out in the blood drive’s second year, but acknowledged it’s a busy time with teacher evaluations and fall sports.  “It’s a Friday, the teachers are so focused on the new state evaluations, and the athletes can’t donate,” he said. “But we’re glad to have a second blood drive at Northmont and more opportunity for community service.”

This year’s blood drive did receive additional support from Northmont Middle School teachers Joy McKarns and Holly Day who adopted it as an October Breast Cancer Awareness Month project.  “She and I are both regular donors and we wanted to get new people to donate blood,” said Holly. “Cancer patients are using it (donated blood) the most.”

According to Holly, six teachers signed up to donate and many provided refreshments for the Donor Café.  Everyone who donated blood in honor of special person will have their picture placed on a “Hero Wall” at the middle school.

Northmont junior Cy Sharp from Clayton made her first lifetime donation at the blood drive. “I was a little nervous,” she said. “The finger prick (in pre-donation screening) hurt more than the donation!”

Senior Elizabeth Barone from Englewood made her third donation at the blood drive, qualifying for the CBC Red Cord Honor Program.
She’ll be able to wear the Red Cord at graduation and honor ceremonies. “I knew I would be finishing my Red Cord,” she said. She also predicted that she’ll donate again at Northmont’s spring blood drive. “I like doing things for other people and this is something I can do.”

Junior Austin Hauptstueck made his first lifetime donation as the blood drive was winding down.  Most of the beds were empty, and NJROTC volunteers Mat Paulson and Torin White rattled their plastic gloves playfully as they served the final donors in the Donor Café.  Austin admitted that he had to summon up the nerve to make that first donation, but was glad about his decision.

“It wasn’t as bad as I expected,” said Austin. “I just felt like saving lives!”

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