USC football dance team attracts 52 donors in outreach effort
Students arrived at the Russell House Ballroom in short spurts to donate blood as a part of the Carolina Coquettes’ blood drive Tuesday afternoon, which represented part of the group’s focus on community service and outreach.
It was the first blood drive hosted by the Coquettes, the university’s football dance team, which performs with the marching band at all home and some away games, who have, in recent years, made service a priority.
“Each of our members is required to do at least two community services projects each year on the team,” said Alex Merisotis, a third-year nursing student and the team’s community service and outreach coordinator.
“Since our team is growing in such a positive way, we feel really blessed, and we just wanted to make sure other people could have the same luxuries of life that we get to enjoy,” Merisotis added.
Merisotis noted that the group hoped to attract 50 donors, which, as they wrapped up their drive at 4 p.m., they had achieved with a total of 52.
Among them were Morgan Gilmer, a first-year international business student, and Alex Bazin, a first-year marketing student — roommates who had much different feelings about and levels of experience with the process they were about to participate in.
Gilmer waited for her turn with a cool, collected confidence. She had, after all, donated every 56 days since she first gave blood around her 17th birthday
“It’s giving back to the community, which is important to me, and there’s always a shortage [of blood donations], which is really sad,” Gilmer said. “I mean, it’s something so easily fixable; there’s no need for someone to die from something like that.”
For Bazen, this was her first time giving blood. She tagged along with Gilmer in an instance of what is certainly roommate bonding, after she had previously been found ineligible to donate during high school.
“If I faint, it’s your fault, Morgan,” she said. “You’re carrying me back to the room.”
Jamie Muldrow, communications director for the Red Cross’s South Carolina Blood Services Region, acknowledged the importance of bringing in new donors and quelling their fears.
“We always try to make sure we’re getting new donors in, so whenever we get the opportunity to partner with a group from USC, where you may be seeing a lot of first-time donors, that’s really important,” Muldrow said. “We want to make sure that people who have never donated before have a great experience, [and] we hope they’ll continue to come back.”
Muldrow also said that each blood donation can be separated into three parts, which can then “help save up to three patients in need,” thereby magnifying the Coquettes’ impact.
The Coquettes’ Merisotis also noted that the group’s outreach work had extended to other local charities, including Sistercare and Pets Incorporated, and to performances at local schools and camps. The group, she said, is also planning to adopt a street with Keep the Midlands Beautiful and hopes to make blood drives such as Tuesday’s a regular feature of their efforts.