The Maneater

Tigers come together in service for homecoming

Over fifteen thousand lives were saved and 223,009 pounds of food were donated.

MU student Cole Lawson poses with a sign while giving blood at the 2015 Homecoming Blood Drive. Over 15,000 lives were saved and over 223,000 pounds of food were donated at this year’s Homecoming blood and food drives. Courtesy of the Red Cross MO

Every year, MU Homecoming hosts a blood drive and a food drive. Over 15,000 lives will benefit from the blood drive and over 223,000 pounds of food were donated this year.

The Blood Drive

Although Missouri Tigers typically bleed black and gold, last week, they bled red for the American Red Cross and saved thousands of lives in the process.

This year marks the 30th year of MU’s partnership with the American Red Cross for the Homecoming blood drive. Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers as well as student volunteers aided throughout the duration of the drive Sept. 28 to Oct. 1.

According to the MU Blood Drive Twitter page, the grand total for 2015 came out to 5,114 donors, with each blood pint saving three lives.

Senior Justine Kaminski, a member of the Mizzou Homecoming Blood Drive Steering Committee, has been participating in the blood drive since freshman year. In fact, it was one of the first activities she became involved with.

“It’s great to see that turnout,” Kaminski said. “It just kept pulling me back.”

Dan Fox, the external communications manager for the American Red Cross Missouri-Illinois region, said he has met with both blood donors and also the recipients. He said he is “incredibly enthusiastic” about the partnership between the university and the American Red Cross. He said that an operation of this caliber would not happen without the help of thousands of MU students.

“To call it impressive is an understatement,” Fox said.

The blood goes to patients who are fighting for their lives, he said.

“These are patients that are going to the hospital everyday for car accidents, or to undergo surgery, cancer patients, premature babies, women going through childbirth,” Fox said. “All of these patients can and often do require blood products, which can literally make the difference between life and death.”

Every donor who came to the Hearnes Center during the four-day drive met with a staff member who checked patient health history and reviewed the donation process. The donors received snacks and a T-shirt after.

The entire process lasted about an hour for a donor.

The organizers also reach out to friends, family and MU alumni through satellite drives throughout Missouri. All American Red Cross stations across the country accept blood donations toward MU Homecoming efforts anytime before Oct. 7.

Kaminski appreciates that everyone involved in Homecoming, whether it’s with the blood drive or another aspect, takes part in one of MU’s richest traditions.

“Mizzou is all about traditions, so getting to experience that and be a part of it, it’s been really rewarding,” Kaminski said.

The Food Drive

Not only did MU students save lives by giving blood, but they also helped to feed the community.

This year, MU students and Columbia citizens participated in several food drives. Service committee director Tanner Bryant and committee members Payton Ehrhardt, Sigal Fridman and Garrett Romines organized the drives.

“I think it’s important to give back to the Columbia community because it’s a community that houses us for nine months out of the year, and so for students to give back, even if it is for two hours, it shows appreciation for the community,” Romines said.

The whole food drive process occurred throughout September. Combining all of MU’s food drive efforts, it is one of the largest donations all year for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

The Homecoming Day of Service lasted from Sept. 9-10, in which Greek students and other organizational members served for two-hour intervals at the food bank. “Lending a Paw to Hunger” involved Greek students standing outside Gerbes collecting monetary and food donations in mid-September. Canning nights were held downtown. Tiger Food Fight was held Sept. 15 and the time for campus organizations and Greek students to drop their goods off at the Student Center.

Lending a Paw raised $3,357.10 and 34,009 pounds of food, Day of Service collected 165,000 pounds of food and Tiger Food Fight gathered 24,000 pounds of food along with 35,000 cans.

The MU food drives benefit several counties within the region of the food bank. The general impact is so great due to the fact that the donations from all three of MU’s events went to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, Romines said.

“You don’t realize how many students starve or who aren't well-equipped to have good meals throughout the day,” Romines said. “It’s important to raise as much awareness with the food bank and to give back.”

Various events happen within the food bank, such as making take-home bags for kids, making buddy packs and giving food to homeless and women’s shelters. The food is distributed among various counties, so people in need don’t always have to journey to the food bank’s physical location.

“It’s important because whenever you think of Homecoming, you think of all the stuff that makes campus pretty,” Ehrhardt said. “(We) want people who are participating to also feel like they are doing some good.”

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