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Evansville student's blood drive efforts earn scholarship

Toni Wright attends North Dakota State University.

Toni Wright of Evansville helped save lives by hosting an American Red Cross blood drive this summer in her hometown and earned a $1,000 scholarship as a result, the organization announced.

As part of the Red Cross Leaders Save Lives program, the North Dakota State University student hosted a blood drive at Faith Lutheran Church in Evansville on June 28 which collected 50 blood donations. Wright’s name was entered in a drawing to win a scholarship and was chosen as a winner. She also received a gift card.

She didn’t know she would be entered in the drawing until after she began organizing the blood drive, Wright told the Echo-Press in an email. She said her win surprised her because she know many other students who had also organized blood drives. While college students can take their pick of programs and clubs to join, she chose the Leaders Save Lives program because she felt it would help minimize the need for blood in the world.

Wright, a sophomore, hopes to work at a hospital in Alexandria after graduation and receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

She said she has donated blood the past four years.

“I think just knowing that you are helping save someone's life is a great feeling each time you donate blood,” she said.

Her blood drive drew 10 donors who had never given blood before, she said; five of them were ages 16-18. It felt great to see her efforts lead people to donate blood that would save lives, she said.

Wright also gained leadership and organizational skills, the Red Cross said.

Blood donors from high school and college blood drives account for about 20 percent of donations given through the Red Cross during the school year. Many of these blood donors do not give when school is not in session during the summer months and the winter holidays - a time when the organization says blood shortages can occur.

The Leaders Save Lives program encourages high school and college students to host blood drives during these times. Students who participate as blood drive coordinators are eligible to win a scholarship for higher education and earn a gift card.

The next Leaders Save Lives program takes place during winter break, Dec. 15 through Jan. 15. For more information, visit redcrossblood.org/leaderssavelives.

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