Volume LVIIMay 2010Number 2

LifeSkills Grads Promote Community Partnership
Adapted from an article by Evan J. Donham, Sophomore, Quakertown Community High School

On Monday, Nov. 23, Quakertown's Strayer Middle School hosted one of the area's most highly successful American Red Cross blood drives. Seventy-four participants donated 67 usable pints of blood, to be distributed to hospitals in the PA-NJ area. The turnout of 74 people was in itself amazing, but what surprised the donors the most was not the efficient process or the massive turnout, it was that 16 of the 7th and 8th grade students had coordinated the whole blood drive. From calling and scheduling to reminding and greeting donors, the students on the school's Street Team had a hand in all the blood drive's workings. Jane, an American Red Cross volunteer at the blood drive said, "this was the busiest and smoothest run blood drive I have seen."

The Street Team is only two years old; 80 students were nominated by their teachers its first year, but only 11 were selected based on their leadership skills, rather than their academics. The Street Team's creation was a result of the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation's LifeSkills Conference and its hands-on lessons of Respect, Relationships and Responsibility. This conference hosts around 100 young people for a week each summer.

After learning that the Masonic Blood Donor Club had donated to the 2009 LifeSkills Conference, Strayer teacher and LifeSkills Conference advisor Tracey Holland reached out to Bro. Jeff Donham, Blood Drive Chairman, 9th Masonic District, member of Prosperity Lodge No. 567, Riegelsville, and parent of a Strayer student. Following his visit to the LifeSkills Conference last summer, Bro. Donham proposed that the Street Team learn how to coordinate and run a blood drive of their own, and the young people accepted the challenge. "The kids did everything," Donham said. "From making phone calls and scheduling donations, they did it all."

Holland also mentioned that the blood drive was, "a way to promote community partnership," and the partnership between Strayer, the American Red Cross, and the Masons showed in the astounding turnout at the blood drive. Through the sponsorship of Prosperity Lodge No. 567, Riegelsville, the Masonic Blood Donor Club made a gift in the amount of $10 for every pint of blood collected. The gift will be used toward the Street Team's participation in the 2010 LifeSkills Conference this summer in Elizabethtown.

Jaclyn Mattis, account manager, American Red Cross, told the students, "Three lives are saved for every donation collected." An even more amazing statistic: 28 were first-time donors, which is significant because after the first donation, most find that continuing to donate is easy. With the help of their school, their community, Prosperity Lodge, the American Red Cross, and the Masonic Blood Donor Club, 16 middle school students put the principles of the LifeSkills Conference to practical work. By taking on the responsibility of organizing and conducting a very successful blood drive, they earned the respect of their peers and counselors, and strengthened relationships across all facets of their community.

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