Donate Blood or Donate Time – Donor Ambassadors Needed!

By Lori Arnold McFarlane, Regional Communications Director, American Red Cross

Did you know that approximately 36,000 units of blood and 7,000 units of platelets are needed every single day to save lives in the US? In fact, every two seconds someone in this country needs blood. While an estimated 38% of the US population is eligible to donate, less than 10% actually do so. The American Red Cross collects about 40% of the nation’s blood supply, and since blood cannot be manufactured, hospitals and patients rely on generous donors to give blood. (American Red Cross)

Donating blood (or platelets) if you are eligible is a rewarding and safe way to save lives.

But donating blood isn’t the only way to get involved with the work of the Red Cross. Donating your time as a Red Cross volunteer is also an option for becoming a part of this life-saving mission which helps 4.5 million Americans in need of a transfusion every year.

Volunteer Mattie Davidson checks in a donor giving platelets on her day off.
Volunteer Mattie Davidson checks in a donor giving platelets on her day off at the Red Cross blood donation center in Little Rock, AR.

Three days a week, Mattie Davidson volunteers at the Little Rock American Red Cross donation center as a Donor Ambassador. When donors arrive to give blood or platelets, Ms. Mattie checks them in, walks them through the donation process if it’s their first time and gives them important donor information to read over (if they haven’t done the RapidPass before arrival). After the donations are complete, Ms. Mattie chats with the donors and offers them juice or a cookie before they head back out to enjoy the rest of their day.

Ms. Mattie’s been volunteering with the Red Cross for over two years now. Being a Donor Ambassador is enjoyable, she says. She likes working with the donors and has come to know a few of the regulars. The job isn’t difficult, she adds. Every once in a while she’ll get a question she doesn’t know how to answer, but the biomedical staff are always quick to help.

Becoming a Donor Ambassador is a fun and flexible way to volunteer with the Red Cross, according to Marie Rantz, the Volunteer Engagement Representative in Arkansas. Marie travels all over the state recruiting and training biomedical services volunteers. The Donor Ambassador training only takes 45 minutes to an hour, which Marie offers either one-on-one or in groups. Volunteers are usually needed for blood drives which occur daily all over the state, though some are also needed in the Little Rock and Jonesboro donation centers. Volunteers can choose to work for a few hours at a local blood drive or can work several days a week. Volunteering as a Donor Ambassador is flexible and can work with any schedule.

A Donor Ambassador’s job is to register or check in people who arrive to donate blood, walk them through the donation process and offer refreshments at the end. New blood donors may feel a little unsure of what to expect, and the friendly demeanor of a volunteer puts them at ease.

What does it take to become a Donor Ambassador? The requirements are simple – register as a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/volunteer and complete the training with Marie. You don’t even have to travel; she can come to you.

What qualifications do you need to have? The only qualifications needed are good communication skills and a pleasant and courteous approach to donors and staff!

Who can volunteer? Anyone! Whether you’re in high school or you’re retired, a stay at home parent or just someone looking for a way to give back to your community, becoming a Donor Ambassador allows you to be involved in the Red Cross mission of saving thousands of lives every single day.

Interested? For more information on becoming a Donor Ambassador in Arkansas, contact Marie at marie.rantz@redcross.org. Or go straight to redcross.org/volunteer and get started right away!

To become a blood donor, visit redcrossblood.org and search for a blood drive near you. You can also download the free Red Cross Blood App on your smartphone to search for blood drives, manage your appointments and track your donation history.

To host a blood drive at your school, workplace, organization or event, visit redcrossblood.org/hosting-blood-drive.

Can’t donate blood or time? Consider saving lives with a financial donation at redcross.org/donate.

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