Blood Drive Returns to Oak Knoll

Last week, Oak Knoll staff, faculty, and students celebrated the return of the annual blood drive. Pre-pandemic, the school partnered with the Red Cross to host an annual drive run by students under the leadership of longtime Upper School Dean, Joan Paster. 

Though still largely student-run, Athletic Director Kelly Childs was the impetus for making sure the tradition returned. “Joan was at Oak Knoll for 30 years, and when I joined the community I was drawn to her leadership style and ability to connect with the students,” she related. “Joan held the girls accountable and empowered them to be the change makers. The blood drive was always an annual event that symbolized accountability and community and I admired that and I was excited to bring it back to our community this fall. It was awesome to see and feel the energy and support in the classrooms on the day of the drive.” 

The results are back from the Red Cross, and they are impressive: 35 returning donors, 32 first-time donors, and a total of 36 pints of blood collected — enough to save 108 lives.

Oak Knoll surpassed its initial goal and qualified for the first tier of a scholarship award.

Through the American Red Cross High School Scholarship Program, Oak Knoll has the opportunity to help others, while also helping establish a scholarship fund to benefit an Oak Knoll student as they move on to higher education. The more pints of blood our school collects, the more scholarship money we are able to receive. The scholarship program is available for high schools that host at least one Red Cross blood drive during the year.

Students that helped to lead the organization and execution of the day include: Grace Smith ’24, Kiera Ardise ’25, Anne Eagan ’25, Moira Joel ’25, Zoe Ha rmaty ’25, and Lauren White ’25. “We had many other students volunteer to offer support to those giving blood, baking and bringing snacks for the canteen, and donating blood themselves,” reported Childs.

Oak Knoll junior Ardise said, “I was motivated to get involved and volunteer because both my parents are physicians and they have always told me stories of how important blood donations are to people going through medical issues. While I wasn’t able to give blood at this drive, volunteering was a very rewarding experience and I hope Oak Knoll can continue to facilitate more events like it.”

Senior Smith added, “When Dr. Childs asked me to help organize this drive I thought of how my mom gives blood whenever she can and she always talks to me about the blood shortage we are under. When I decided to give blood it was a practice what you preach kind of thing. I would tell everyone to sign up to donate because this blood is saving lives and we need it. Even though I am scared of needles, I really believe in the impact donating makes so I wanted to be a part of that impact.”

Upper School science teacher and donor Sean Melican added, “I feel that giving blood is a great way to do a little good since blood has no synthetic replacement and is always needed in hospitals for everyone from infants to the elderly.”

Following a decline in blood donations over the summer, the Red Cross is facing a national blood shortage. Our enthusiastic and caring community is doing its part to ensure this critical aspect of the national health system is prepared to support those in need.