Marking return of campus activity, spring blood drive returns, collecting 165 pints

As in-room quarantine ended and campus crackled with energy last week, dozens of Norwich University students, faculty and staff members marched into the Vermont National Guard Armory hoping to help save lives.

On Feb. 25, the Center for Civic Engagement held its spring blood drive, partnering with the American Red Cross of Northern New England. Plumley Armory is serving as a five-days-a-week COVID-19 testing center this semester, having administered more than 11,000 COVID-19 tests since January. So, the blood drive moved across campus.

As in the fall, Civic Scholars Kevin Sloan, a junior, Hadlee Wolfram, a sophomore and Aidan Grady, a freshman organized and ran it.

In his Feb. 25 Update from the Hill address, Norwich President Mark C. Anarumo said he’d donate blood himself and aimed to be first in line.

“We hit the ground running. It was definitely a scramble, but clear heads prevailed and we just focused on the task at hand.”Kevin Sloan ’22, Civic Scholar

Nicole DiDomenico, who directs the Center for Civic Engagement and has coordinated the Plumley Armory COVID-19 testing, said the blood drive hoped to collect 200 units, about half of the goal for past drives, which were open to the public. With campus closed to outsiders because of COVID-19 protocols, this drive was exclusive to Norwich’s community.

The drive collected 165 units, DiDomenico said; donors included 26 first-timers and 38 power-red cell donors. Power-red donors donate two units of red blood cells during one donation.

Because of the pandemic protocols and Vermont Health Department guidelines, mounting the drive required a logistical sprint, DiDomenico said; student organizers had just two weeks to prepare.

Sloan said as soon as the drive was cleared, he, Grady and Wolfram built a volunteer team and spread the word with signs, social media messages and word-of-mouth. As in the fall, all donors and support staff had to be prescreened, wear masks and physically distance.

“We hit the ground running,” Sloan said. “It was definitely a scramble, but clear heads prevailed and we just focused on the task at hand.”

Community devotion

The four-year Civic Scholars Program launched in 2017 and is modeled after AmeriCorps, a national volunteer program. Civic Scholars can receive a $3,000 annual scholarship for each year they complete program requirements; completing all four years means a $12,000 scholarship.

spring 2021 blood drive 11 min
Norwich University students showed community solidarity by donating blood at the spring drive at the Vermont National Guard Armory. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

Civic Scholars serve 500 hours for community causes — 200 hours during the freshman year; 150 hours in the sophomore year, with more responsibilities and a focus on becoming leaders in training; 100 hours in the junior year, including leading a service program; and 50 in the senior year, including advising program underclassmen.

In previous years, Civic Scholars have participated in the Buddy-Up Youth Mentoring program and joined service activities, some involving Northfield, Vermont, nonprofits — Mayo Healthcare, an assisted living center; the Veterans’ Place, a transitional home for U.S. armed forces veterans; the Northfield Police Department; and the Boys & Girls Club.

DiDomenico cited the oft-shared Red Cross statistic that one pint of blood can help save up to three lives as a reason for satisfaction.

“When you think about that 165, that’s not just a lot of pints, that’s a lot of lives,” DiDomenico said. “I am so extremely proud that our students are as committed as they are.”

(Slideshow photos by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

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