By Cady Inabinett, News editor
SGA hosted one of its four annual community blood drives on March 8 and 9. SGA partnered with LifeSouth to bring one of the group’s bloodmobile mobile donation centers onto campus.
SGA president AnaKate Andrasko spoke on the blood drive’s importance saying, “It is a way we serve our community and with our community being in an emergency blood shortage it imperative that we host a blood drive this semester.”
Andrasko said SGA’s Director of Social Services, Paige Stephens worked to organize the event. Stephens also spoke to the event’s importance, saying that the event is a great way for the university to give back to the area.
“As a student government organization, we always try our best to advocate for our students and our community,” Andrasko said.
She also emphasized the impact of providing accessible volunteer opportunities, like blood drives, to students, saying, “Giving the students the opportunity to contribute to the Montevallo community also us to have an impact on others. Giving these students this opportunity allows them to easily volunteer which makes an impactful difference.”
Stephens spoke on SGA’s relationship with their partner, LifeSouth, commenting, “We have used LifeSouth for many years because the staff is kind and helpful! Their ability to have the Blood Drive Van also helps to make this event as effective and safe as possible.”
LifeSouth, according to their website, is “a non-profit community blood bank serving more than 125 hospitals in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.” They operate more than 30 blood donation centers and 50 bloodmobiles and sponsor more than 2,000 blood drives a month.
The group has said they’re in need of all blood types amidst a national blood shortage. Other blood donation groups, such as the Red Cross, have also declared that they are experiencing blood shortages. The cause of this shortage has been attributed to drops in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many blood drives were cancelled.
This decrease in donations lead to the Food and Drug Administration to relax donation restrictions placed on gay and bisexual men in April 2020. Under the new rules, men who have had sex with other men now must wait three months before donating blood, previously they would have to wait 12 months. Guidelines like these were in place as a precaution against spread of HIV, but have been deemed discriminatory and not backed by science by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like GLADD. These rules also affect women who have had sex with gay or bisexual men and people who have gotten tattoos or piercings within the last year. These groups can now also give blood after a three-month period.
Stephens pointed toward the ongoing blood shortage as a factor in planning the event.
“Alabama and the US are under and national emergency blood shortage, and we want to make sure we as a community have the opportunity to help,” she commented.
Overall, Stephens emphasized the importance of community outreach on campus, saying, “Community outreach is so important to SGA because it is a key component in listening and fulfilling the requests of constituents on campus and in the community. We are proud to get to serve the greater Birmingham area and Montevallo in many different ways!”