Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, according to the American Red Cross. On Tuesday, January 14, Goshen College students, faculty and staff spent part of their day participating in a Blood Drive held in the Fellowship Hall. 

The environment was calm and pleasant, with soft music playing and a table filled with snacks. Sitting near the entrance, working registration, was Jane Schneider, a long-time volunteer for the Red Cross.

For Schneider, giving blood is personal. She has been volunteering with the Red Cross regularly since her retirement in 2011. In 2004, one of her sons was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. 

“I know there’s a need,” she said.

She was proud to say that 16 years later, her son was cancer-free. 

In the United States, there are approximately 500 blood drives held daily. With each donation comes the potential to save three lives. There are 6.8 million donors in the US annually, and in order to run this massive operation, the Red Cross has approximately 23,000 employees and 330,000 volunteers. 

Lindsey Morea, who has been working for the Red Cross for seven years, was in charge of this particular blood drive. She made sure that everything ran smoothly and was pleased with the turnout. The drive had a maximum capacity for 41 people, and 32 had pre-registered, leaving a few slots for walk-ins.

During and after the holiday season, there is a generally a shortage in blood supply. Morea said that “there is always a critical need for blood, platelets and plasma. Sometimes the critical need is more.” Right now, the blood types in highest demand are O-positive and -negative. 

The winter holidays aren’t the only time there is a shortage of blood. Many drives are held at high schools and colleges, and when these institutions are closed for the summer, there is always a shortage. 

Everyone who gave blood on Tuesday seemed to have the general attitude that giving blood wasn’t a big deal.

Trey Santiago, sophomore, said that he donates blood “to give people who are in an accident or in need of blood transfusions a chance to still live. It doesn’t hurt that bad.” 

Josie Strader, sophomore, echoed this sentiment, saying that “it feels like a relatively easy thing to do for the gain. And it puts off the emails and phone calls.”

For some, giving blood is as routine as going to the dentist. Cynthia Good Kauffman, director of conferences and events, gives blood about three times a year. She said giving blood is important because “it’s not something they can produce [in a lab], so you kind of have to do it.”

Blood hasn’t always been so easy to give. For hundreds of years, scientists and doctors worked hard to find a way to transfuse and store blood effectively. Before the current system was created in the 1940s, blood donors were “on-call,” but in medical emergencies, there was never enough blood available. The existence of today’s blood banks and bloodmobiles is largely credited to Dr. Charles R. Drew, a prominent African-American doctor who served as the first head of the American Red Cross Blood Bank program in 1941. 

In 2020, giving blood could not be easier. It can even be fun, with snacks and a free T-shirt. To those who are afraid of giving blood, Schnieder says that it’s not nearly as bad as it might seem. 

“If you can stand getting pinched or a pin prick, you can give blood,” she said.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at the Goshen Red Cross, you can call 1-800-REDCROSS. The local chapter is located at 1123 South Indiana St.