Saving Lives and Creating Community

Posted on January 11th, 2010 by

Written by Kelly K. Nelson ’10

Photo by Alex Messenger '10

A student gives blood at the fall 2009 blood drive at Gustavus. (Photo by Alex Messenger '10)



Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.

A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood. One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. The number of blood donations collected in the U.S. in a year? 15 million. This academic year, more than 200 of those are from members of the Gustavus Adolphus College community.

The American Red Cross Blood Drive is a semi-annual event at Gustavus sponsored by the Communication Studies Board. It has seen much success since the late ’90s. This school year has been no different. During the fall drive, Nov. 4 and 5, 2009, there were 140 donors who scheduled appointments, plus a large number of walk-in donors. At the end, 177 units of blood were collected.

The Communication Studies Board promoted the event weeks before, staffed the two-day drive, and some of the student board members also donated blood.

“The Communication Studies Board is all about helping the greater Gustavus community by raising awareness about something. Here we are raising awareness about blood donation . . .  Donors can be very important, becoming someone’s only hope,” says Ally Pelton, a senior communication studies major and president of the Communication Studies Board.

The Communication Studies Board began sponsoring this event at Gustavus for a number of reasons — some practical and some more meaningful. Associate Professor of Communication Studies Terry Morrow explains that it was much easier for the Communication Studies Department, which currently comprises 105 majors, to come up with the numbers to staff this event. Morrow says, “It’s a good community service project for a large major because of staffing needs associated with the blood drive.”

Moreover, the planning and organization of the blood drive is an opportunity for communication studies majors to implement content from the classroom toward a meaningful event. Morrow describes this as an opportunity for the meshed interests of communication studies students, as it incorporates marketing, promotion, event planning, and informing the public about this need. “Students take what they are learning in the classroom and make a difference in the world with it,” Morrow says.

“It shows that the Communication Studies Board really cares and we do something that’s really important and worthwhile,” says Mariya Jukic, an executive board member and communication studies major. “It’s important because Gustavus prides itself on community and we are creating that through these volunteer efforts of the donors, which also demonstrates service, another value.”

Communication Studies Major Jenny Broman donates blood. (Photo by Alex Messenger '10)

A student donates blood at the fall 2009 drive. (Photo by Alex Messenger '10)

“It embodies what we stand for, community and service especially, and it’s important to act on these values,” says sophomore Pheobe Breed, who has donated blood a number of times as her family instilled the importance of doing so in her. “It’s great to know that you’re helping people and that people do things to take care of other people . . . For college students, when its convenient to do something they will, and having an event like this on campus increases the likelihood that they will give.”

Many can agree that the semi-annual American Red Cross Blood drive is a definite embodiment of Gustavus’s core values, service and community, and coming together to champion a greater cause. “Gustavus students love to give back. I’ve witnessed that first hand and have grown to admire this. We want to help our neighbors grow. Since this event is open to the Gustavus and St. Peter communities it really brings people toward a common goal, and that is to save lives,“ says Pelton.


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