FOREST HILLS A previously scheduled blood drive at Chamberlain High School turned into an impromptu outpouring of help for accident victims on Wednesday.
Students and staff streamed into the auditorium throughout the day, lining up for one of 16 chairs where they would lean back and give blood. Florida Blood Services comes to Chamberlain several times a year, but organizers asked if they could extend the hours for collections after learning of the high demand for blood.
The multiple accidents on Interstate 4 strained reserves that already were lower than normal because of the holidays, according to Florida Blood Services. Chamberlain made an announcement urging more participation at midday Wednesday, and the response was fast.
"Kids will step up when they can," teacher Mel Whitworth said.
Students who are 16 years old may donate blood with written permission from their parents or guardians. New donors who are 17 only need verbal permission. Students who are at least 18 do not need permission.
By early afternoon, 140 people had donated and more were coming into the auditorium, surpassing the projection of 80.
"We're going to stay til everyone donates who wants to," said Lory Jones, blood services community relations.
A flowered bandage covered the mark on senior Jenna Hamblin's arm. Hamblin, Chamberlain's student government president, had planned to donate blood even before hearing about the accident but stayed to help sign up other students throughout the day.
She met several first-time donors and held her friends' hands as they gave for the first time. She said students don't always realize how much of a difference a blood donation makes, and the accident inspired many to take action.
"I think that really hit home for everyone," said Hamblin, 17.
Teachers responded as well.
"I hope somebody would do it for me," said Ed Carmack, who teaches the IMPACT dropout prevention program.
Carmack hadn't planned on donating but made it a priority after learning of the need.
"I just thought I wasn't going to have time to donate, but I made time," Carmack said.Technorati Tags: i 4 wreck i-4 accident i 4 crash