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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 10 years ago

A new generation of givers

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Garrett Pruse can’t even stand to look at a needle.

The tall, good-looking Riverview High School senior is so scared of needles that his stomach turns at the thought of the word, yet his parents somehow convinced him to donate blood for the first time last August.

Still wearing the arm wrap from his donation, Pruse was recruited to be a regular donor after a woman chased him down in the parking lot of the Suncoast Communities Blood Bank.

“I was leaving work and saw what looked like a mom, dad and teenager,” said Rhonda Peters, director of development for Suncoast Communities Blood Bank. “I asked if they had all donated together, and they had. Garrett has proven to be a star recruiter at getting other students to donate — he should hang out in parking lots more often.”

Four months later, Pruse hasn’t changed his mind about needles, but he has helped recruit six other teen donors to help with a new peer-to-peer, focus-group campaign called Generation Give.

“The reason I do this is because I know it’s such a good thing,” Pruse said. “I had already finished my 150 required community-service hours (as required by Riverview) before I started volunteering for the blood bank.”

Students at Ringling College of Art and Design have taken control of the campaign’s visual aspect by designing posters and videos that recount true, meaningful stories, and, in some cases, extreme stories of teens.

“We profiled teens and learned so many different reasons why they are scared of blood,” said David Trujillo, a resident-assistant at Ringling. “I told students that the blood drive doesn’t really have to do with blood — it’s saving lives. Blood is such a minor thing. Because the audience is teenagers, we tried to make it trendy to intrigue students.”

Together, Trujillo and Shane Miller created 12 posters that can be transferred to different items, such as T-shirts, with the message: “How far would you go — to save a life?”

“It got stuck with us, so anything we do, we’ll say, ‘How far would you go?’” Trujillo said. “We went eight days without sleeping to get the project done before Christmas.”

The students staged every photo on the posters. After locating an online coyote photo they wanted to use, they found out that a single use would cost $3,000.

“We had to feed a piece of chicken to a coyote on a Bradenton reservation so he would grab for it, and then Photoshop the chicken out,” Trujillo said.

The students also staged eerie photos, such a hand reaching out from a body of water, which represents someone drowning, as well as a car flipping over, with hands pressed against the front windshield.

“We chose the concept that speaks to the students,” said Jennifer Mumford, director of the design center for Ringling. “We didn’t want to talk down to them, but wanted a campaign that would communicate something about giving blood … that it’s not just a way to get out of class and worth doing for a lifetime.”

Before Ringling students became involved, the campaign was cutesy, with smiling drops of blood and Mickey Mouse hands. Now, the school-focused sub-branding is designed with black-and-white images.

“The video is so moving it makes me cry,” Peters said. “It clearly hits some personal nerve, something really raw. It’s extremely powerful to me.”

Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].

3: Number of lives that can be saved by one blood donation.
5: Number of Bloodmobiles the Suncoast Communities Blood Bank has.
5: Number of hospitals served by SCBB — Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System, Doctors Hospital, DeSoto Memorial Hospital, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and HealthSouth Ridgelake Hospital.
14: Number of tests performed on each unit of blood.
16: Required age to donate blood.
38: Percentage of the population eligible to donate blood.
42: Number of days red-blood cells are viable.
100: Average number of units of blood SCBB needs to collect daily to fulfill its role as first responder to hospitals and the community.
25,000: Number of units of blood SCBB collects annually, which translates to roughly 8,000 patients.

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