Youth blood drive inspires new donors this holiday season

Friends from rival high schools team up for youth blood drive

December 15, 2020
Friends from rival high schools in Langley, B.C. set up a holiday season blood drive to inspire youth to become regular donors

Four high-school friends in Langley, B.C. are keen to inspire more of their peers to become regular blood donors. They’ve organized a holiday season blood drive at a local church for December 17.

Mya Ellis and Cassie Renaud attend Langley Secondary School while Stefanie Robb and Kate Straforelli are students at Brookswood Secondary School. The schools are sports rivals, none of which are taking place right now due to COVID-19.

Since nearly all community events and group activities are also on hold, local youth have few volunteer opportunities.

“I wanted to find a way to give back to the community,” says Mya, whose mom is a regular blood donor and the vice-principal at Brookswood.

“With so little going on and lots of time to spare, my mom suggested we try to do something important like a blood drive. I talked with my friend Cassie and we agreed it would be a good thing to do.”

Mya and Cassie grew up together. Cassie encouraged Mya to reach out to Kate who has been a soccer rival over the years.

“I donated for the first time in May, so I was all in,” says Kate, who then recruited Stefanie.

Image of two young girls in a classroom, Mya and Cassie

Mya Ellis and Cassie Renaud grew up together and want to give back to their community

To better understand the blood donation process, the four girls attended an event in Langley last month. They all enjoyed the experience and two of them donated for the first time.

Two girls from Brookswood Secondary School in Langley with sign acknowledging blood donation

Brookswood Secondary School students Kate Straforelli and Stefanie Robb.

“I was a little uneasy at first because I’m kind of afraid of needles. But it was not as bad as I thought and it turned out to be really worthwhile,” says Mya.

“We’re all looking forward to the chance to encourage youth to donate blood and make a difference in the community,” says Cassie. “It took us a few weeks to get the blood drive going. Once we started meeting together and planning things interest in the event grew.”

To promote the upcoming blood drive, the girls started an Instagram page, shared posts on their personal accounts, secured coverage in their school newsletters and made presentations to their classmates.

“Since there aren’t any sports taking place right now, we thought this could be a fun way to create friendly competition,” says Mya. Her mom is pleased they’re promoting blood donation.

“I love how a little idea sparked into something bigger. Many people don’t realize how much the health system depends on blood donation,” says Lisa Ellis.

“I think the blood drive is a fantastic initiative and Kate’s mom, Rebecca, and I all plan to donate. Mya asked me which school I’ll be donating for but I’m not saying. What I will say is I’m proud of her and the kids at my school for taking this on.”

There is an immediate need for blood donors this holiday season. Canadian Blood Services has more than 15,000 open appointments to fill across Canada by December 31. To maximize physical distancing measures at collection events, appointments are required to donate. To book an appointment and join Canada’s Lifeline, download the GiveBlood app, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book now at 

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