School is out and my boys have almost two weeks of sleeping in, fighting, swimming, fighting, fishing, fighting, baseball, and fighting under their belts. I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start, but before all of that summer fun could get under way, we had to get through the end of school chaos. And by that, of course, I mean Field Day.
I have to give our school some credit, though. It was almost kind of controlled chaos. No one got hurt and I think fun was had by all (except maybe the teachers in the dunk tank on a chilly overcast day). I even sort of enjoyed it, too.
I had an especially important job: I ran the marble grab game. Basically, there was a wading pool filled with water and about a ton of marbles. Two kids at a time raced to see who could grab the most marbles with their toes and dump them into a cup at the side of the pool. (Future Olympic sport?) We’re teaching important life skills here people!
So what I had to do was keep the timer, wrestle kids into some semblance of a straight line, occasionally catch a stumbling youngster, and chase stray slimy, toe jam-covered marbles. I know what you’re thinking, but believe me when I say it wasn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds. At least I did have a partner.
My partner was a mother of a kindergartener who was in the same class as my youngest and it was a pleasure to team up with her for the day. It turned out we had a lot in common:
1. Obviously we are both great moms (because we let ourselves get suckered into helping with Field Day)
2.We both found the increasingly dirty water in the wading pool pretty much revolting.
3.We are both creative problem solvers (“Bonus points if you pick up the slimy marbles in the grass!”)
4.We are both being relentlessly pursued by vampires.
As professional as my partner was, she did receive a phone call while on duty. To her credit, she didn’t answer (one simply can’t run a tight marble grab game if not 100% focused on the task). Instead, she rolled her eyes and commented, “Ug. It’s the Red Cross again. You ever have an organization just hound you until you can’t stand it?”
I was, of course, completely focused on the battle before me as two second-grade girls with apparently freakishly long toes locked in an epic struggle with only five seconds to go (I was expecting bloodshed), but, I admit, her question resonated with me and my focus was temporarily broken. “Oh, yes,” I replied. “I get that from the Red Cross in Oregon.”
In case you don’t read this blog all the time (because you’re not my mom), I should mention that I relocated from Oregon to St. Louis about four months ago. I am also a mostly dedicated blood donor. Before having kids, I was committed to donating every eight weeks. Since kids, I am busier, but I still try to give blood about 3 or 4 times a year. I am youngish, healthy, don’t suffer from an irrational fear of needles, and have never gotten a face tattoo, so I feel like donating blood is an easy way to help out my fellow man.
And the American Red Cross does a bang-up job of collecting, screening, and distributing pints of blood so that those who need it have access to it. After all they’ve been doing it since February 4, 1941 when the first American Red Cross blood donation center opened in New York. Over the course of World War II, the Red Cross vampires (or as some might call them “phlebotomists”) collected a whopping 13 million units of blood.
The American Red Cross was not the first organization to collect blood in this way. As early as 1922 there was a small-scale blood collection center run from the London home of Percy Lane Oliver, who was not a doctor, but served as honorary secretary of the Camberwell division of the British Red Cross. Oliver saw a need for a unified effort to collect and distribute donated blood to hospitals.
And though the processes for storing and using donated blood were not yet perfected, Oliver’s small center conducted health history screens of possible donors (those without face tattoos), conducted rudimentary typing, and established lists with contact information so donors could be reached whenever there was a need.
His approach caught hold and as World War II increased the demand for blood,the American Red Cross developed a similar approach. Today there is a wide system of inter-connected blood collection centers throughout the US, many of which are run by the Red Cross which collects and tests blood, asking potential donors intrusive personal question such as: “In the last year, have you gotten a tattoo on your face?”
They also keep phone numbers and when there is a need, they call. A lot. And if you have ever donated, even once, they call. Regardless of whether or not you have a commitment to monitor the marble grabbing training efforts of future Olympians, the Red Cross vampires will call. If you tell them you have moved out of state, over 2000 miles away, they call again the next day. And if you’ve recently gotten a tattoo on your face, they’ll call again in a year.
I can’t blame them, exactly. It’s a great thing they are doing and with only about a third of the eligible American population actually donating each year,and an endless need for blood, it’s a big job getting those of us who are willing to walk through the door often enough to meet the demand.
I am very grateful for the work they do because it means that if tragedy should strike during Field Day (which would obviously not happen at the marble grab game because that one has some pretty top-notch volunteers), the area hospitals will be prepared. But man are those vampires relentless!
So here’s what I say. Unless you use heroin or have received a blood transfusion in a third world prison system, please, please, please donate a pint of blood.Then if you ever intend to volunteer for Field Day, make sure you donate every eight weeks. And whatever you do, never, ever move out of state, unless maybe you plan to get a tattoo on your face.