Parenting: Give blood, set an example

Red Cross Sticker
David Murphy says we all want our kids to be caring and empathetic. Giving blood is a good way to show them how.
December 8, 2011 8:44:48 AM PST
Like most parents, we Murphy's have spent a lot time over the years instructing, correcting and trying to mold our kids into successful people. But we define success as more than simply being good at a job. Just as important is being good at life. By that, I mean that it's important to be contributors to the world in ways that make things better because you were there to affect change. While preaching this sort of idea is the most obvious tool, a more effective exercise is to show your kids how to be good citizens by example.

I can think of few more altruistic activities than giving blood. People talk about giving something of yourself to make a difference all the time, and in general, volunteering certainly fits this bill. But a blood donor not only gives his or her time, but gives up something of their body, too, and in a way that does the ultimate: it saves lives. What's more, they give you a little sticker afterwards that you can wear home. When your kids see it (and see it repeatedly), it initiates conversations about altruism and empathy, and how important it is to pitch in to help others in real ways. You may also plant a seed in your kids' heads that could make them future donors, which they can do as soon as high school age. I gave blood over at Archbishop Prendergast High School in Upper Darby the other day and it was impressive to see dozens of students lining up to do their part.

Teach kids, help kids

The need for blood donations is constant, of course. Every day, hospitals need new units for certain treatments as well as surgeries. And by the way, those hospitals include the various children's institutions in our area, so as a parent, you're not only helping your own kids think about helping others, you may also be helping sick children. Child or adult, the basic mantra of the people who run these drives is: give once, save three lives, which are some pretty nice words to think about as you're eating your cookies and slurping your orange juice before you leave.

The American Red Cross has a great online tool that allows you to search for donor locations near you and to sign-up online. The link I've provided is the search page for the Penn-Jersey region. You enter your zip code and the distance you're willing to travel (you can limit your search to 5 miles from home, if you like), and donor locations for today, tomorrow and beyond will appear in chronological order. You can then click on the event you like, choose your time, and sign-up. I made my latest appointment only a few hours before I donated, which made it super easy. You have to register on the site to get started, but after that, you just log-on, click and then drop by and give. The donating session takes about an hour, even less once you're issued a Red Cross card which speeds up the process, and there are multiple mobile blood drives nearly every day, so it's usually easy to find a convenient location nearby. And by the way, the actual blood-giving part only takes about 5 to 7 minutes; the rest of the time mainly involves some clerical housekeeping.

Maybe, maybe not

Some people can't give blood because of medical reasons. No one can do it when you've got a cold or other passing illness. Some of you may disagree with the practice on some personal principal, which is your right. But if you're able and willing, it's a great thing to do. And when you come home, be sure to wear that "be nice to me, I gave blood today" sticker for your kids to see. They'll know you're a giver in life, one more lesson on the road to making them givers, too.

---David Murphy

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