Two schoolchildren give gift of life with blood drive

NEIGHBORS

March 25, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TWO FIFTH-GRADERS at Hollifield Station Elementary School helped collect 70 pints of blood by organizing a blood drive.

The children, A.J. Pilgrim and Greg Barr, did everything from publicizing the event to working out the schedule, said Donna Culan, the school's gifted and talented program resource teacher.

Culan said the boys' efforts were inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They began by contacting a local chapter of the Red Cross, and the organization helped them plan the drive.

First, A.J. and Greg wrote and sent out an interest survey to parents, which went home with schoolchildren. They received about 140 responses from potential donors age 17 and older, Culan said. Their next step was working out a schedule. A second letter asked interested people to pick their top three time slots for the blood drive. The boys then scheduled the event, which was held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 18.

Eighty-two potential donors showed up, 12 of whom could not give blood because of medical reasons such as anemia or recent illnesses, Culan said. The blood was donated to local hospitals. A Red Cross representative told the boys that each pint of blood could save four lives, she said.

The boys also asked local businesses to donate items for a raffle, Culan said. They received about 25 items, including gift certificates and books. Everyone who registered had a chance to win.

"They did that all on their own," Culan said. "Their parents drove them, but the parents stayed outside the stores while the boys went in. These are two phenomenal kids."

Red Cross Club

The Red Cross has certainly been involved with local schools lately. About a year ago, Janet Zhou sent a letter to the Central Maryland Chapter of the Red Cross, saying she wanted to volunteer there the summer before her senior year at Centennial High School.

The organization asked her whether she would like to get involved in a pilot program by starting a Red Cross Club at her school. Janet agreed, and she says she's learned a lot from the experience.

"They kind of held my hand through it," she said, explaining that the organization provided leadership training and ideas for projects.

This month, the club held a car wash that raised $515 for AIDS orphans in the African country of Malawi. The money went to buy pencils, paper and other school supplies for the children.

"They can't receive the free public education unless they can provide their own school supplies, so we try to help out," Janet said.

The club has about 25 dedicated members, Janet said. Her goal is recruiting younger students so the club will continue next year, after she has graduated.

As for Janet, she's waiting to hear from colleges. But she's confident she'll continue working for the Red Cross.

Special Olympics winners

Congratulations to Tiffany Brooks, Stephanie Baker, Wayne Slifker, Jenny Andres and Brian Mooney. The athletes from Ellicott City and Elkridge took home medals in the Winter Games of the state's Special Olympics, held Feb. 24-26 at Wisp ski resort in Garrett County.

The team from Howard County won a total of eight gold medals, six silver and one bronze. Ricky Wheeler of Elkridge had to drop out because of an injury.

Brooks and Baker took silver medals in the 50-meter cross-country competition; Slifker won a silver in the intermediate giant slalom and placed fourth in the intermediate slalom; Andres brought home a gold in the novice giant slalom; and Mooney collected a bronze medal in the intermediate giant slalom.

Hospitality center

Next time you're in Ellicott City's historic district, you might want to stop at the Visitor Information Center. The center, at 8267 Main St., has been revamped with the addition of a hospitality room featuring a video presentation and displays on the history of the Patapsco Valley region.

The history presentations were provided by Friends of the Patapsco Valley and Heritage Greenway.

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