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ROTC blood drive draws big turnout

Katie Peralta | Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Notre Dame Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC), partnered with the American Red Cross, enjoyed a high turnout once again at Tuesday’s semiannual blood drive in the LaFortune Ballroom.

The event, which takes place each semester and lasts two days, is a Tri-Military sponsored event, which means Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine ROTC contribute volunteers to staff the sign-in desk and assist with snack and beverage, Major Tim Dukeman, executive officer of Army ROTC at Notre Dame, said.

Alliance To Lead And Serve (ATLAS), the ROTC cadet community service organization, helped put together the staffing plan for the ROTC volunteers and will assist in taking down the equipment when the blood drive concludes, Dukeman said. He himself planned much of the event, including the contact with the Red Cross.

Dukeman said he hopes this year’s event draws record numbers.

“I am hoping we see between 270 and 300 people this time,” he said. “Last semester, 262 people showed up. We would love to keep increasing the number who want to give.”

The number of donors so far in this year’s event, Dukeman said, already is promising.

“We had a completely full appointment list before the first drop of blood was drawn,” he said.

Dukeman said the event has its volunteers to thank for the first day’s success.

“The Notre Dame family makes this one of the biggest blood drives in this part of the country,” he said. “Last semester, 235 pints were collected. According to the Red Cross volunteers who worked the event, this was the most they had ever collected over a two-day period. It couldn’t be done without the people coming in and giving of themselves.”

Cadets Geralyn Janke and Griffin Bonnema were two of the Army volunteers staffing the event. Both echoed Dukeman’s optimism about this year’s event.

“We’ve had a really good turnout,” Bonnema said. “We have more than 20 appointments per hour, including more walk-ins.”

Cadets like Janke and Bonnema, who worked the event in shifts with fellow cadets, ensured that volunteers sign in and read through the informational packet before donating. Donors were then required to go through a questionnaire and iron test.

The two cadets said while giving blood is a gift itself, donors do have another incentive: Each day volunteers are entered into a raffle to win a $150 Visa gift card.

“We also have free Coke and cookies,” Bonnema said.

Kailyn Van Beckman, a senior cadet captain from Valparaiso University, worked with Dukeman to plan the event, as well as to publicize it.

“[To inform potential donors,] we used posters and a LISTSERV,” Van Beckman said. “But if I could do it again I’d make it a Facebook group.”

The event continues tomorrow in the LaFortune Ballroom from noon until 6 p.m.