The leaders of a Fort Lee Brownie troop hosted a representative from the American Red Cross Friday to talk to the girls about the importance of donating blood in preparation for the troop’s upcoming blood drive at the Fort Lee Recreation Center on Jan. 29.
Co-Leaders of Brownie Troop 1017 in Fort Lee, Paige Soltano and Rachel Schulman, invited Rosana Tabakci of the American Red Cross’s blood services division for the Penn-Jersey region to the troop’s meeting at Fort Lee School No. 3.
“Giving food to a food pantry is helping people who don’t have enough food for themselves,” Soltano told the Brownies. “When you give blood, you’re donating to people who need blood. So think of it as a food pantry but specifically for blood if there’s a shortage … that’s how I want you to think about it; it’s part of giving back to your community.”
Tabakci taught the girls about the three components that make up blood—plasma, platelets and red cells—and explained what they can expect on the day of the blood drive, including how blood is taken from a donor’s arm and stored in bags.
“Your blood is what feeds every organ in your body, so you need to have blood in order to be healthy,” she said.
Tabakci also talked about people who are not healthy and suffer from diseases like cancer or leukemia and therefore “need blood.”
She told the girls that their job would be not to give blood—you have to be at least 16 to donate, Tabakci said, much to many of the Brownies’ relief—but rather to sign up donors and bring them to the drive and help out by “being nice,” thanking people for participating, giving out cookies and stickers that say, “Be nice to me; I donated blood today,” and distributing green nametags to first time donors who may be nervous and therefore require extra help and red nametags to experienced donors.
“You’re going to help get the word out, and on the day of the blood drive, you’re going to help by giving the donors a very, very nice experience,” Tabakci told the girls of Troop 1017. “Your goal for the drive is to collect about 30 units of blood. In order to get that much, we’re looking for about [40 to 45] people to help us out.”
Soltano said nine people have already signed up, putting the Brownies that much closer to their goal.
If they hit their goal, Tabakci said, they will receive a pin that reads, “I made a difference.”
She told the girls to ask their parents, neighbors and friends to sign up for the drive and to aim for at least two people each.
The girls were also given American Red Cross posters promoting the blood drive to put up in local libraries, schools and supermarkets, as well as some blank ones to decorate however they see fit within the theme of promoting the drive.
Tabakci, who works with a lot of Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts and Cub Scout groups, in addition to elementary schools, said she finds that after hearing about the importance of donating blood “they all like to help out.”
“They have a hard time to understand about blood,” Tabakci said. “But on the day of the drive, they understand because they see it, and it’s fun. And they feel good because they’re doing something they know is good.”
She told the Brownies that by participating in the blood drive, they’re helping “save someone’s life.”
“And isn’t it a [good] way to help save someone else’s life with something you have?” she said. “It doesn’t cost anything to you, and it would really make a difference in a patient’s life. You think it’s scary [because of the needle], but it’s not. I donate blood every three months. And I feel very proud that my blood is helping save someone else’s life.”
Tabakci also explained to the girls that the average adult has between 11 and 13 pints of blood in their body, depending on their size.
“If you have 11 pints of blood and you give a pint, you still have 10 pints, and that’s still a lot,” she said. “The good thing is that as you give blood, your body makes those cells all over again. So you don’t lose anything. Your body’s so amazing it will make new cells in your body.”
Six to eight people from the American Red Cross will be on hand for the Jan. 29 blood drive at the Fort Lee Recreation Center. The Brownies will be on hand not only as helpers, but to learn.
“You guys need to help the people who participate,” Soltano said. “This isn’t about you. It’s about you participating and you supporting those people.”
She also said the Brownies will earn a patch by signing up a donor.
Tabakci also said they can expect a special visit from “Buddy,” the American Red Cross’s mascot—a blood drop—on the day of the drive.
The blood drive is Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Fort Lee Recreation Center.
For more information on donating blood through the American Red Cross, which Tabakci pointed out “doesn’t work with any kind of third party, [but rather] goes directly from donor to hospital,” visit their website and enter your zip code. A list of donating opportunities in the area, including the Fort Lee Brownie troop's event, will come up.
The American Red Cross also has a rewards program and offers other incentives to donate, Tabakci noted.
Girl Scout Cookie Sales Are Here!
Brownie Troop 1017 is now actively selling cookies. For more information or to order cookies, email Paige Soltano at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rachel Schulman at email@example.com. Otherwise, you can always wait for a knock on your door.