The American Red Cross Challenges U

By Tia Rinehart

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Winter weather and sick donors make this time of year a struggle to keep blood in stock. The ‘We Challenge U’ program was created to eliminate this issue.


The American Red Cross has created the ‘We Challenge U’ program in collaboration with universities and high schools. The program runs from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 and targets returning students in an effort to schedule as many blood drives as possible. SIU is helping out by hosting six blood drives within the next two months.

Dan Fox, communication manager at the American Red Cross said donations during January and February are lower than any other time of year.

“The needs for donations fluctuate throughout the year,” Fox said, “but the supply of donations definitely decrease during winter months.”

According to, winter has already left the Red Cross short nearly 7,000 donations.

Fox said the lack of donors is attributed to various reasons. The flu is prominent during the winter, leaving those who are sick ineligible to donate.

Winter storms and cold temperatures also prevent donors from being out and about, Fox said. Around 30 blood drives in the past month have been cancelled in the Missouri-Illinois region, and all blood remains as local as possible.

“The blood from local blood drives stays in the Missouri and Illinois area,” said Fox, “Unless there is a desperate need for blood, like a natural disaster.”


Jennifer Freeze, the donor recruitment representative for Jackson and Randolph counties in Illinois, coordinates the local blood drives. Freeze said in order to coordinate the blood drives at SIU, she contacts various scheduling departments such as housing, the student center and Greek life.

On Feb. 6 the Greeks of SIU will host the fourth blood drive of the semester in the Student Center.

Andy Morgan, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said blood drives are part of their mission of service.

“It has just been a tradition,” Morgan said. “It has been a part of the culture of the Greeks for decades.”

Morgan said the Greeks organize and promote two blood drives per semester. The fraternity or sorority that gets the most donations receives a traveling trophy to keep until the next blood drive.

35 pints per blood drive is the average goal, Freeze said. Once those who attempt to donate but are ineligible are eliminated, only 5 percent of the nation is able to give.

Freeze said constant donations are vital because the blood is only good for 42 days. The American Red Cross collects 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. Therefore, if there are no donors, the nation suffers.

The six SIU blood drives this semester are scheduled for Jan. 22 and 23 in the Student Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 3 in Lindegren Hall from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 6 in the Student Center from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Feb. 14 in both Grinnell and Lentz Hall from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Tia Rinehart can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @tiarinehart_de or 536-3322 ext 254.