MANATEE -- Blood, a necessity for human life, enables us to breath, replenishes our bodies and without it we would stop functioning altogether. Therefore, blood drives were created for those in need.
Manatee County contributes to several blood drives such as the Sun Coast Blood Drive and the Manatee High School Blood Drive.
Manatee High School conducts numerous blood drives.
Any student 16 years or older is encouraged to donate. Teachers donate as well.
The latest blood drive at Manatee High School had a turnout of 270 student donors. All donations go to community hospitals and patients.
More help is needed, officials said.
"Less than 5 percent of the population donate blood," said Bridget J. Harry, manager of community relations for the Sun Coast Blood Bank.
High school students donate 25 percent of the local blood supply and help treat those with cancer, blood disorders, newborns and accident victims.
Thanks to Manatee County teens, a car accident victim can survive a surgery, a newborn can continue its brand new life, or a patients diagnosed with ailments that require blood will have a brand new start.
There is a payback of sorts for teen donors. Bridget said Sun Coast Blood Bank awarded $24,140 in scholarships to high school seniors.
"Studies show that individuals who are introduced to the importance of donating at a young age are more likely to become life-long donors," said Harry.
Mr. Perez, student council teacher and an ambassador for the Sun Coast
blood drive for MHS, is in charge of getting Student Council students to raise awareness for blood drives. His volunteers help with the blood drive and assist in any extra activities.
To raise awareness, members distribute signs, hang banners and make announcements. This was Perez's first year participating in the blood drive and while the cause was successful, the process can be daunting.
"It was a bit rocky at first but I think that next time they come here, it won't be during testing and more kids will be able to participate," said Perez.
Manatee High School plans to donate next year as well. Donors have parental consent to be able to give blood.