Andrew Cave is a North Surry High School student who some day hopes to become a doctor, but he already understands the critical role a blood supply can play in emergencies.
As part of that concern, Cave will lead a blood drive Wednesday at Gentry Middle School through the American Red Cross. It is scheduled from 2:30 to 7 p.m., with those participating to receive a free T-shirt.
The student will host the blood collection as part of the Leaders Save Lives program of the Red Cross.
That program encourages community-minded 16- to 24-year-olds to host drives to help maintain the blood supply over the summer months, when inventories traditionally lag.
Cave, who is 17, explained Thursday that he has been a volunteer with the local Red Cross since December and is aware of the ever-present need for blood at medical facilities.
“I’ve actually hosted a few others,” said the North Surry junior, whose leadership leanings also will include serving as student body president during the next school year.
“He’s been amazing,” Red Cross staff member Lynn Wilkes — who helps organize blood drives in Surry and Stokes counties — said of Cave’s involvement.
Leading a drive requires coordinating efforts with Red Cross staff members who will collect the blood and lining up volunteers to help with the event, along with support tasks such as making sure snacks are available for donors, he explained.
While all blood drives help fill a vital need, the one next week will include an extra dimension, the tie-in with the Leaders Save Lives program. It will offer Cave an opportunity for a scholarship to further his educational plans.
After graduating from high school, he would like to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to enter the pre-med program and later on, medical school.
Students who serve as a blood drive coordinator can earn a gift card and are eligible to win a scholarship of up to $2,500 for higher education.
In order for him to be in the running for that scholarship, at least 30 units of blood must be collected during Wednesday’s drive, Cave said.
“Donating blood takes about an hour of your time and could help save up to three lives,” he added. “I encourage the community to roll up a sleeve and give blood at our upcoming drive. Donating blood is an easy way to volunteer, and it helps patients in need this summer.”
Blood donors from high school and college blood drives account for about 20 percent of donations given through the Red Cross during the school year. Many of these donors do not give during the summer months when classes are not in session and blood shortages often occur.
All blood types are now needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.
The Mount Airy community is encouraged to download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment for Wednesday’s drive.
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required when checking in at the event.
Individuals who are 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent. weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.