Niagara Gazette — Wednesday was Barbara Rodgers's birthday and the library media specialist at Niagara Falls High School had a special request for her colleagues and the students.
She wanted them to pledge to donate 100 units of blood through a UNYTS drive at the school on her big day.
Everyone came through for her.
"They came out in droves today," Rodgers said. "These people can't go out and buy gifts for other people because many of them don't have enough themselves. But showing up like this shows they're investing in themselves, investing in the community. And it teaches them it's not just about their blood donation, but also about giving the gift of life."
Rodgers has served as the school's advisor to its Donate Life club, which is responsible for organizing the high school's four annual blood drives. Wednesday's event was the second since October. The others are scheduled for February and April.
With this drive in particular, more than 120 students and faculty members, ranging from 17-year-old students to some of the district's highest ranking faculty members, gave blood.
Even Dean of Students Marc Catanzaro rolled up his sleeves to help the community.
"Any chance I get, I donate," Catanzaro said. "Having it here at the school is nice and convenient, but really, the kids bring me here. They're a good group and it's a good cause."
According to UNYTS Relationship Development Manager Linda Castellano, blood drives like this and at other area schools and colleges account for about 35 percent of the blood donated each year. She said about 60 Donate Life clubs exist throughout the eight counties of Western New York, responsible for setting up and facilitating the drives.
The blood donated locally also remains local, she said. UNYTS, formerly Upstate New York Transplant Services, exclusively supplies all blood to Niagara County's hospitals and several others in the region, including Erie County Medical Center.