KETTERING, Ohio - Alter High School senior Molly Grimes knew she had a juggling act on her hands when she chose to organize the school blood drive as her senior service project. Everything was coming together for the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 29 - until the frigid temperatures forced yet another schedule change. This time it was a two-hour delay right when the blood drive was scheduled to begin.
"I did the whole planning, putting up signs, getting people to sign up, promoting it and getting the juice and cookies," she said. "I've been working with Mrs. Sugrue (school nurse Theresa Sugrue) bringing it all together. But it's been kind of hectic this morning! Because of the two-hour delay our whole schedule got messed up so we're getting everybody in whenever they want to!"
The Community Blood Center (CBC) blood drive was originally scheduled from 8 a.m. to 12 noon with a goal of collecting 70 donations. Like most schools, the "Big Chill" temperatures this week forced Alter to close on Tuesday. Then there was the two-hour delay Wednesday morning. Molly, Mrs. Sugrue and their volunteers suddenly had to squeeze a four-hour schedule into half that time, juggle appointments, and appease teachers already concerned about students missing class because of the weather cancellations.
"The kids were so anxious to give and excited to try it," said Mrs. Sugrue. "I've been in the canteen area and I've been with them for moral support," said Molly's top volunteer and fellow senior Megan Ferguson. "They've been nervous, but they're fine."
"Our projection was 70 units in four hours, and we did about 60 in two and a half," said CBC account representative Jon Thalman. "It all went really well, all things considered!"
The Alter High School drive not only did well, it somehow managed to go beyond the collection goal, despite the obstacles. The blood drive registered 73 with 44 first-time donors and collected 58 donations for 103% of the collection goal.
"It was good!" said first-time donor Julius De Castro. "I was really nervous. But everybody else was doing it so I thought I should do it too to save some lives."
This week's deep freeze comes as Alter and Catholic schools across the 19-county Archdioceseof Cincinnati are celebrating the 40th annual Catholic Schools Week under the theme "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service." "We were supposed to go to mass at UD arena," said senior Malik Young. The mass was cancelled due to the weather, but Malik was able to make his second lifetime donation.
"I always wanted to," junior Rachel O'Brien said about her first lifetime donation Wednesday. "My mom does it. I wasn't sure if I would be able to with the delay, but I was rescheduled!"
Next to Rachel in the donor area senior Danny Bayer made his second lifetime donation. With three registrations to donate during his high school career Danny would qualify for the CBC Red Cord Honor Program and be able to wear the Red Cord at graduation. "I'm going to try to donate once more to get my Red Cord," he said.
Senior Caroline Kernan also made her second lifetime donation. "The first time, I was a sophomore," she said. "I'm not nervous. This stuff doesn't make me nervous. I want to be a nurse." She has her choices for nursing schools narrowed down to St. Mary's in Indiana and Texas Christian University.
In the Donor Café students relaxed with juice and a variety of cookies, courtesy of the organizing efforts of Molly Grimes. They also received the high school donor gift of a "What's Your Hashtag" backpack. It will remind students of the extra effort it took to hold a blood drive during the deep freeze of 2014, and the rewards of donating. "I was a little nervous," said first-time donor Sara Crotty, "but it was fine!"