HOSA and Leo Club to Host Blood Drive in Honor of National Blood Donor Month


Valentina Arias

Photo courtesy of Nadya Young.

Kate Stuzin, Managing Editor

Since its inception in 1970, National Blood Donor Month has brought awareness to the importance and demand for blood donations. This January, it is especially relevant, as hospitals around the country seek donors who have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the Red Cross, the convalescent plasma in their blood contains antibodies that can help up to four coronavirus patients in need.

Two clubs at Miami Palmetto Senior High School Health Occupations Students of America and Leadership Excellence and Opportunity club — have teamed up to host their first blood drive of the year in honor of National Blood Donor Month.  

“Usually, we have five blood drives a year at Palmetto,” HOSA and Leo Club sponsor and Health Science teacher Joyce Brislawn said. “This year, with COVID-19, we are not allowed to have blood drives at school, so we are having one off-campus.”

On Mar. 1, students over the age of 16 can participate in the blood drive at the Walgreens on 132nd St. and U. S. 1 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.. Students ages 16 and 17 must have a parent’s permission to donate. Donors must wear a mask at all times. Upon arrival, students will receive a free mini-physical and antibody test. Incentives for students to donate blood include two hours of community service, a free t-shirt and free food.

Leo Club members focus on scheduling the blood drives, running recruitment for donors and setting up the reception area where donors can sign-in. HOSA members work the floor with Leo Club members and they both aid in walking donors to the OneBlood Big Red Bus. 

“We are hoping to increase blood drive participation through social media, mainly through our Instagram [@mpshleoclub] lives and through our monthly posts that give blood drive facts,” Palmetto junior and Leo Club President Nadya Young said. “This month, we will be posting facts regarding the importance of donating blood in a pandemic.”

Due to COVID-19, both Leo Club and HOSA host their respective club meetings online. This has drastically changed the way HOSA conducts its competitions. The competitions boast over 40 topics, ranging from Veterinary Medicine and Dental Assisting to Medical Art and Medical Photography.

“Our phase 1 testing for the competition has been different since we took the exam through Zoom,” Palmetto senior and HOSA Secretary Julia Diaz said. “Usually, we have a second round of physical competitions about some healthcare jobs, and we get to show how well we know the skills, but [this year] it’s only up to the test.”

According to Brislawn, HOSA has grown from 20 members to 70 members this year, and 40 students competed in the local competition; Leo Club has 37 members. The results of the competition come out on Jan. 26 and let competitors know if they qualified for the state competition or not.

This abundance of members allowed for the two clubs’ recent project collaboration, Healthcare Worker Hearts, to make a large impact on the community. 

“HOSA joined together with Leo Club to make thank you cards for healthcare workers… as a show of appreciation to those putting their lives on the line to keep us safe and healthy,” Diaz said. “We actually expanded it as well to the Health Science classes and the Early Childhood and Development Classes.”

Students delivered the Healthcare Worker Hearts to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in December, where the staff expressed much gratitude. Meanwhile, both HOSA and Leo Club members work to spread the word about the upcoming blood drive that serves as yet another way to give back to hospitals.

“The most we ever raised was 70 pints of blood in less than two weeks,” Young said. “We want to recruit as many donors as possible, as the main message of what this month means to us is to spread awareness about blood donation and its importance during the pandemic.”