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Thursday December 8th

'This work matters': UNC to host 34th annual blood drive on June 7 in Dean E. Smith Center

Even in the snow, the Red Cross trucks in Durham are ready and waiting. Around the state, North Carolina blood banks are currently facing new shortages.
Buy Photos Red Cross trucks sit in the parking lot on Jan. 23, 2022. The Red Cross is collaborating with the Chapel Hill Employee Forum to coordinate the blood drive on June 7, 2022.

UNC will host its 34th annual Carolina Blood Drive on Tuesday, June 7 in the Dean E. Smith Center from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Chapel Hill Employee Forum and the Red Cross collaborate to run the blood drive and collect blood donations for people that need blood transfusions.

Rhonda Hubbard Beatty, director of the UNC Visitors Center, said the organizations collaborate in order to maximize the reach and organization of the event. 

For Jerel Bonner, a long-time donor to the Carolina Blood Drive and former UNC employee, "saving lives is in his veins."

Bonner has been donating blood since the 1990s, which is just a few years after the Carolina Blood Drive came into fruition in 1988. 

“Even after 30 years, they're still getting big crowds and I think that's great that it's embedded into the Carolina culture, that this is something that they're going to do every year,” Bonner said.

Now, he said he attends every Carolina Blood Drive Planning Committee meeting and shares his ideas.

He said he recalled a time he noticed a young donor coming in who appeared nervous. He guessed that it was his first time donating, so he helped talk him through the process and recommended that a nurse reassure the donor during the donation process.

“So making his first experience as comfortable as possible and catching on to those signals really was a memorable event for me,” Bonner said. “And it's one of the reasons why I continue to do what I do, which is engage everybody that I interact with at the blood drives.”

Beatty explained she’s been a part of the Carolina Blood Drive Planning Committee for at least ten years.

She said that the blood drive is a community effort and that she believes word of mouth from passionate volunteers has been extremely effective in raising the community's awareness of the event.

“I get a lot of joy out of helping people, out of serving this University and out of working with others who care as deeply as I do about the mission and the work that we're doing,” Beatty said. 

Beatty added that joining the planning committee was a way for her to continue giving back to the community through service, which she did all throughout high school and college. 

She also said that she was grateful that when one of her family members needed blood, it was available. 

“It was affirming that this is meaningful work, that this work matters. It touched me differently,” Beatty said.

Cally Edwards, communications director of the American Red Cross in eastern North Carolina, works with the UNC Employee Forum, which sponsors the blood drive.

"The UNC drive is a great opportunity to do that, kick off the summer by helping patients in need, because the need for blood does not stop,” she said.

Edwards said that the Carolina Blood Drive is one of the largest blood drives in the country. 

“We're hoping to have 1000 people make appointments and come out to this blood drive," Edwards said. "And so, this would be a great opportunity to come help. It's a really fun, energetic event.”

All donors at the blood drive will receive a commemorative T-shirt and free food.

To schedule an appointment for the blood drive, visit the Red Cross website and enter the sponsor code "UNC" or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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