Yeah, it may seem kind of cheesy, but if you’re looking for a great service project for your students around Halloween time, you may want to look into organizing a community blood drive.
Local blood banks are almost always in need of donated blood, and cheesy as it sounds, you can tie in the “blood” aspect of the drive into both Halloween and the atonement.
Here’s what you’ll need to get going:
Talk to the governing body of your church and secure their permission. Things will go much smoother for you if you do. When you seek permission, be sure to mention that the Sundays around the blood drive would be a good time to talk about the atonement and our forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Next, pitch the idea to your students. If they’re on board, start taking volunteers to make posters (tell them to hold off until you’ve got a location), volunteers to help set up and tear down the area, and then general volunteers for whatever the organization will need on the day of.
Next, you’ll need a location. This is very important. The location of the blood drive may very well determine how many people will actually show and give blood. Many people might be cautious about coming to a church to give blood but would gladly go to a local community center. Your church might be big enough that it could host a very successful blood drive just out of it’s membership. Most of you, though, will probably have to find another location.
Call around and check out local community centers, apartment or neighborhood common areas, and civic organization buildings. Many of these places would love to partner with your leadership team to host a blood drive. Explain that you’re interested in hosting a blood drive, and are getting all your ducks in a row before you call the organization. Discuss dates with your partner organization so that you have a few in mind when you hit the next step. Don’t finalize anything yet, because you haven’t contacted the organization that will actually do the blood drive.
Contact the Organization
In many areas, the American Red Cross will be the organization to contact concerning running a blood drive. Some cities have local blood banks, and you can certainly contact these as well. Check out the web for your options and then get with your leadership team to pick one. You may want to go with a local organization, or with a recognizable and trusted name like the American Red Cross. After you pick one, contact them and see if they’d be willing to partner with you for the event. Talk over some of the dates that you and your location partner had discussed before.
Once you have the Location, the date, and the Blood Bank Organization, go back to your students that had volunteered to help promote the event and prepare a promotions plan. Make sure each of the students who volunteered are involved, and that your plan covers as wide an area and audience as possible.
Contact your location partners and see what they’ll need to prepare for the event and if you and your leadership team can lend a hand. Help them with set-up and volunteer to help with tear down.
Have a team of people that are ready and willing to be on-site the day of to help in any way possible. Wether it be welcoming guests, helping with sign-in, or offering juice and cookies afterwards I’m sure that a few volunteers would be very welcome.
There’s a great resource on the American Red Cross site to help you plan and organize your blood drive event.
Remind your pastor that the blood drive is coming up, and make sure it’s being mentioned in things like announcements and in bulletins. You might even offer to have the students run service the week before the event so they can talk about it. Don’t be afraid to preach about Jesus’ death and the atonement the week before or after the blood drive; this is a great tie-in for the event.
Day of the Event
Again, the American Red Cross has a great site to show what to expect the day of your event.
After the Event
Make sure before everything ties up that you get some statistics from the event. The people who made this all possible will want to know how successful the event was and if everything went smoothly.
Report these numbers back to your youth group, your church, and make sure your location partners have the numbers as well. Make sure you follow up with the Blood Bank Organization and thank them for making the event possible. It’s good if this is done in a letter that your whole group signs. Make sure one goes out to your location partners as well.
Debrief the event as soon as possible. Gather your students and make a list of what went right and wrong for each group of volunteers. Make a similar list for the event as a whole. Talk about why those things that went correctly did, and how the things that went wrong can be addressed and fixed. Where possible, talk with each student individually about their performance, especially those that you delegated responsibility to, and debrief them. Open, honest feedback is essential to growth.
It will be a lot of work, but a blood drive is a very rewarding event to undertake. It’s helpful in the community, very visible, and will give your students some real-world experience organizing and executing a community event.