RHS hosts summer blood drive

Members of the Russellville community filled the high school gym Tuesday afternoon as Russellville High School and the American Red Cross hosted a blood drive to benefit girls’ athletics.

For every pint of blood donated, the American Red Cross donated $10 to Golden Tiger girls’ athletic programs.

“It’s so great to have everyone come out to support a great cause but also to help out athletics,” said Russellville girls basketball head coach Jermaine Groce.

The blood drive was a joint effort by girls basketball, volleyball and softball, with more than 40 student athletes volunteering.

“We are just really proud to see how many people came out,” Groce said. “Russellville always steps up to the plate to support.”

American Red Cross account executive and donor services Stephanie Holcomb said Russellville is one of her favorite communities to work in because of the support the community always shows. “It always amazes me how many people are so willing to come out and help,” Holcomb said.

In addition to the blood drive benefiting the girls’ athletic program, it was also in honor of RHS senior Jagger Mills, who recently died of severe aplastic anemia.

Holcomb said throughout the day, several of Mills’ family members showed up, and the American Red Cross was quick to push them to the front of the line.

“We know how difficult it must be for them to be in an environment like this right now, so we are so thankful for them coming out and supporting,” Holcomb said.

Mills’ sister Tiffany Garrison said she was donating for the first time in honor of Mills and his journey.

“I have seen how something that seems so simple can make the biggest difference,” Garrison said.

Holcomb said she did not expect so many people to participate, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she and her team worked extra hard to make sure people felt comfortable with health precautions.

Before entering the building, everyone was required to wear a mask and register below a 99.5 temperature.

Once signed in, donors waited in the gym in a designated area, spaced 6 feet apart. Once that area was full, donors were asked to wait in their cars until it was their turn to donate blood.

Holcomb said donors started lining up as soon as the doors opened, and at one point there was a two-hour wait because of the number of people trying to donate.