Geneva High School students do good works during Week of Giving

Students gave blood, wrote letters, collected food, books, pet supplies

Geneva High School junior Ashley Michelli holds her arm up after donating blood during a visit by Versiti blood donation center as part of the school’s Week of Giving on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

GENEVA – Ashley Michelli sat back in a donor chair, giving her first-ever blood donation.

“It is definitely different,” said Michelli, 17, a junior at Geneva High School. “It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

The school’s Week of Giving on April 22-26 encouraged students to give blood, write notes to veterans, seniors and others, donate food and books and bring in pet supplies for Anderson Humane.

Versiti Blood Center in Geneva collected the blood donations April 24 and students wrote notes in their English classes. Donation bins were set up in the school’s lobby for food, books and pet supplies.

Next to Michelli was Maggie Tweed, another 17-year-old junior ready to give blood for the first time.

“It’s a good opportunity because I wouldn’t have thought to donate blood if it wasn’t through the school,” Tweed said.

Jordan Hayes, 17, also a junior, was waiting her turn.

“I think giving blood is a wonderful way to reach people and it allows a greater connection and a greater number of people to be helped,” Hayes said.

Geneva High School English teacher Corinne Backman works with juniors (clockwise, from bottom left) Hannah Shreve, Elle Miller,  Rachael Wade and Kate Shanahan on writing letters to senior citizens and acting military as part of the school’s Week of Giving on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

She already had written a letter in English class to her mother.

“I gave a thank you note to my mother to give back the love she always gives to our family,” Hayes said.

Elise Erhart, 17, was one of the few who knew her blood type: O negative, considered the universal blood type because it can be safely given to people of any blood type.

“My mom worked in a pharmacy and my grandma was a labor and delivery nurse and she knew all the questions to ask as soon as I was born,” Erhart said about knowing her blood type.

Another O negative donor, Owen Miller, 17, said his physical education teacher excused him so he could donate.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Miller said. “And it’s a good thing for high school students to do to get them started young so they can do it in the future.”

Amanda Gould, a paraprofessional at the school, made a blood donation along with the students. She personally knows the importance of blood donation because of complications during her daughter’s birth two years ago.

“I needed some blood myself,” Gould said. “So knowing it was readily available and I was able to be the best self that I can so I could take care of my daughter. I’ve been donating blood since high school.”

Dean Susan Shrader said in an email that the school collected 49 units of blood.

Geneva High School students were urged to bring donations for Anderson Animal Shelter as part of the school’s Week of Giving on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

One pint of blood can save up to three lives, according to the American Red Cross.

In Corinne Backman’s English class, students wrote notes on small brightly colored cards to Operation Gratitude for active military, Love for Our Elders and The World Needs More Love Letters.

Backman collected the notes to forward to the organizations.

Jacob Grimm, 17, had just come from donating blood and sat with Hunter Finn, 17, Dom Savarese, 17, and Will Larsen, 16, in their pod, all writing to veterans.

Finn said both his grandfathers served in the military. His paternal grandfather was in the U.S. Air Force and his maternal grandfather served in the Navy.

“Veterans probably go unappreciated a lot,” Larsen said. “They come home and they’re just regular people, but they’re not, really. They’ve done more than others realize.”

“Thank you for all that you do for our country,” Larsen wrote. “I have multiple family members serve and I know how much words of encouragement are appreciated. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed.”

At another pod, Allison Mayer, 17, Rachael Rudigier, 17, and Evellyn Gibbons, 16, also wrote notes. Rudigier and Mayer wrote to veterans.

“It is because of you that we are able to sleep soundly at night without having to worry,” Mayer wrote.

“Thank you so much for your service and bravery,” Rudigier wrote.

Gibbons wrote to Dorothy, 92, who lives in Zebulon, North Carolina, a town of fewer than 7,000.

Gibbons showed an app on her phone that provided a QR code so she would know who to write to, although she does not know Dorothy’s last name and Dorothy will know only Gibbons’ first name.

“I just want to let you know how loved and appreciated you are,” Gibbons said as the notes were to be general. “I hope you are having a wonderful day and know that you have a lot of support and love from your family.”