By MARINA WATERS
A college student looking for a way to add to her scholarship fund and a blood center that needs donations are coming together to aid both initiatives.
David Crockett High School senior Ashlea Reaves is one of the five students teaming up with Marsh Regional Blood Center for the Holiday Hero Blood Drive. The drive will be held at Jonesborough’s local Food City and could result in scholarship money for Reaves if enough blood is donated.
If Reaves can rally 25 units of blood, she will be put in a drawing for $500. If she can get 50 units, she will automatically get a $500 scholarship to help her pay for her college education.
However, the money wasn’t Reaves’ only incentive; her interest in entering the medical field is coupled by a desire to also help her community.
“I always thought it was great knowing that one unit of blood could save three lives,” Reaves explained. “After I heard that, I was like, ‘Okay, we need to get this out into the community because the more units of blood we have, the more lives we could save.’ So I thought if we made it more of a community event, then everyone in the community would know about it and want to come out and help as well as the students.”
Reaves is also the vice president of the Health Occupations Students of America at Crockett. She has been a member of the club for the past four years and has assisted in numerous blood drives with HOSA. Reaves teacher and HOSA sponsor at Crockett Cheri Wolfe said Ashlea’s assistance in the club’s blood drives is just proof of her character.
“Ashlea is just incredible. She’s very talented, she’s quite the leader of HOSA this year,” Wolfe said. “She’s put forth a lot of effort and it shows. We’re really excited to see her pursue what will hopefully be a very successful career.”
Reaves has known for a while that she wanted a career in medicine. As soon as she realized what she specifically wanted to do, she decided the pace at which she wanted to achieve that dream.
“Ever since I was very little I always wanted to do something in the medical field,” she said. “And the older I got, the more interested I got into the different categories you could branch off into. I love working with children so I really like the idea of neonatal. I really want to graduate early so I can get into my career and start early.”
Human Relations Coordinator for Jonesborough’s Food City Tim Wisecarver said Reaves’ college education is something she has already started and only further proves her motivation. Reeves also works at the Food City in Jonesborough—and she’s a worker that Wisecarver was more than willing to assist.
“She’s actually enrolled right now in Tusculum,” Wisecarver said. “She’s able to graduate early, but she’s taking Tusculum classes her senior year. That kind of just shows how motivated she is really to go forward and get her degree. She’s volunteered for events for us as well. So when she came to me and asked me about it I told her we’d do whatever we can to try to promote it because I just think it’d be a great thing especially if she can get some money for her school from it.”
Reaves isn’t the only one depending on these donations; Marsh Regional Blood Center’s donor operations manager Ray Bell said this time of year is especially crucial for the blood center.
“Winter time, schools are out—this is supposed to be the worst time for blood centers,” Bell said. “Typically blood centers are going, ‘The sky’s falling! We need donations. We need blood!’ We always need donations. If you have a family member that’s in the hospital and they may be going into surgery and you hear over the loudspeaker, ‘There’s an urgent need for blood,’ that’s not very comforting to hear. So we want to try to stay ahead of the game.”
Though some may think high school students and blood centers don’t typically work together, Bell said high schoolers are a monumental help throughout the year.
“When you’re doing these blood drives, a lot of people don’t realize how much the high school students in this region provide to the hospitals,” Bell explained. “It’s about 18 to 20 percent of the blood that these hospitals use are from high school students. A lot of times (students) get a bad rap—whether it be to get out of class or get a free t-shirt, or they maybe start doing something good for the community, but we’re really appreciative of it and we wanna try and give back to them as well because our whole mantra is ‘give here, help here.’”
Because high school students are such a help to Marsh, Bell said the organization decided to start these scholarship fundraisers to receive donations during slow periods, but to also give back to those that help them throughout the year.
“It’s the right thing to do is to give back to them,” Bell said. “That’s what it boils down to. We work with them and try to make it a good day. We try to build that lifelong donor with these kids.”
For Wisecarver, the opportunity to help both Marsh and Reaves was one he couldn’t pass up.
“It’s two-fold. Anytime you do a blood drive, you’re giving someone an opportunity—someone that’s going to need blood for a transfusion…” Wisecarver said. “We see a lot of kids that work for us and Ashlea’s one of the most motivated ones that’s ever came through Food City. So we just want to try to help her all we could.”
If you’d like to donate, the drive will be on Jan 5 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Food City in Jonesborough. A free t-shirt and snack will be provided with each donation.