No school bleeds like Portsmouth High

R.I. Blood Center nurse Melanie Lambert shares a laugh with Ashley Velzis as she prepares the 17-year-old for a blood donation at Portsmouth High School last Thursday. “I’ve given about four or five times before,” said Ashley. R.I. Blood Center nurse Melanie Lambert shares a laugh with Ashley Velzis as she prepares the 17-year-old for a blood donation at Portsmouth High School last Thursday. “I’ve given about four or five times before,” said Ashley.

R.I. Blood Center nurse Melanie Lambert shares a laugh with Ashley Velzis as she prepares the 17-year-old for a blood donation at Portsmouth High School last Thursday. “I’ve given about four or five times before,” said Ashley.

R.I. Blood Center nurse Melanie Lambert shares a laugh with Ashley Velzis as she prepares the 17-year-old for a blood donation at Portsmouth High School last Thursday. “I’ve given about four or five times before,” said Ashley.

PORTSMOUTH — There will be blood at Portsmouth High School — every eight weeks, in fact.

The school held its annual summer blood drive last Thursday from 1-6 p.m. and, as usual, every table was full.

“This is amazing,” said Sarah Perez, an account manager at the Rhode Island Blood Center. “The summertime is one of the toughest times for us to collect — people are on vacation, school’s out — so we really rely on drives like this. The fact that it’s a high school running the blood drive and to see a turnout like this is absolutely incredible. The support we get from Portsmouth High School is wonderful.”

PHS has in fact distinguished itself as the top blood donor among high schools in Rhode Island.

“Portsmouth High is the only high school that runs six drives a year, which is the most drives you can host. So every eight weeks, this school is hosting a blood drive,” said Ms. Perez.

According to Principal Robert Littlefield, PHS has been the top donating school in Rhode Island in five out of the last six years.

“It’s something that kids treat as a high priority and so do our teachers,” said Mr. Littlefield. “To be honest, a lot of schools look at blood drives as a big disruption. Ours are just like doing everyday business. I don’t mind having six blood drives in a year because it allows our kids to do their part in helping their community and doesn’t really disrupt the day.”

“They’re awesome,” Ms. Perez said of PHS students. “For Mr. Littlefield, this is one of his causes at heart, so to speak. He really supports the Blood Center, the importance of blood donation in our community and the students are right behind him. The dedication here is amazing.”

R.I. Blood Center nurse Melanie Lambert preps PHS student Ashley Velzis before her blood donation.

R.I. Blood Center nurse Melanie Lambert preps PHS student Ashley Velzis before her blood donation.

Alex Guzman, a registered nurse with the Rhode Island Blood Center, said high schools in general are among the center’s most generous donors.

“We go through the high schools on a regular basis. They make up about 25 percent of our donations throughout the year,” he said. “The nice thing is is that at this age group, it really brings them into the community. It’s the first time they do something really productive for the community. Research shows that once we get them donating at this age, they’ll continue to donate throughout their life.”

Anyone can give blood at the PHS drives — not just students. The entire process, including registration and screening, takes about 45 minutes, he said.

One donation helps three

Each donation of blood helps about three patients in a hospital, according to Ms. Perez.

“As soon as we find out how we did at the end, multiply that by three and that’s how many patients will be helped because of this drive,” she said.

Mr. Guzman said Thursday’s goal was 90 people, but the blood drive far exceeded that amount.

Some of the donors Thursday had an additional motive for giving blood, said Mr. Littlefield.

“There’s definitely an incentive and that is, if you’re a senior and you’re going to be applying for parking privileges, if you or a family member donates a unit of blood the month of July, you go to the head of the list,” he said.

The school has “upwards of about 180 spaces for students” and seniors want the most convenient spots, he said.

“We had 111 kids qualify yesterday,” Mr. Littlefield said. “This moves them to the top of the list.”

One of the seniors who donated a pint Thursday was Ashley Velzis.

“I’ve given about four or five times before,” said Ashley, who also donates during the PHS drives during the school year. “The ones in school attract so many people.”

But if she had to select another blood drive outside of PHS, she’d recommend the ones at Frosty Freez in Middletown.

“They give you free ice cream,” she said.

The next blood drive at the high school is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13. Everyone is welcome to donate blood, and Mr. Littlefield urges parents in particular to show up. Besides doing a good deed, they may acquire some valuable knowledge.

“You have an opportunity to lay down between two students and have 15 minutes to learn about our school,” he said.

Where to donate

Here’s a list of some upcoming local blood drives hosted by the Rhode Island Blood Center. For more information, call 800/283-8385 or visit www.ribcdonor.org.

Portsmouth

St. Barnabas Church, 1697 East Main Road

When: 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Aug. 11

Dunkin Donuts Bloodmobile, 3001 East Main Road

When: 3-6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16

Boys Town New England training room, 58 Flanagan Road

When: 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21

Prudence Conservancy Hope Brown Educational Center, 113 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Prudence Island

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30

Clements’ Market Community Bloodmobile, 2575 East Main Road

When: 4-7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6

Portsmouth High School, Education Lane

When: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

Middletown

Aquidneck Donor Center, 688 Aquidneck Ave. (401/848-7422)

When: 12:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays; and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays

The Daily Shake Bloodmobile, 883 West Main Road

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7

Frosty Freez Bloodmobile, 496 East Main Road

When: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10

Newport Creamery Bloodmobile, 208 West Main Road

When: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13

Eastern Mountain Sports Bloodmobile, 1313 West Main Road

When: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13

Dunkin’ Donuts Bloodmobile, 159 East Main Road

When: 4-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16

Tiverton

Country View Estates Community Center, 213 Hurst Lane

When: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22

Family Ties Restaurant Bloodmobile, 221 Main Road

When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24

Bristol

Nutrition 4 Life Bloodmobile, 705 Metacom Ave.

When: 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7

Dunkin’ Donuts Bloodmobile, 8 Gooding Ave

When: 3-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15

U.S. Coast Guard A.N.T. Bloodmobile, 1 Thames St.

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16

DCYF Bristol & East Bay CDC Franklin Room, 530 Wood St.

When: 12:30-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22

Bristol Total Fitness Gym, 685 Metacom Ave.

When: 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22

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