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Blood drives and big plans from Student Organization Service Award

The Bradley Red Cross is looking forward to being in-person to help in blood donation numbers. Photo via Bradley Red Cross

After a long break due to COVID-19, clubs and organizations at Bradley are gathering in person once again. Bradley Red Cross received the Student Organization Service Award after weathering a challenging 2020-21 school year.

Mark Arroyo is a junior biomedical science major and the president of the Red Cross Club. He witnessed firsthand the struggles this club faced while trying to survive the pandemic.

“With Covid hitting, it tanked us,” Arroyo said. “I’m following in our last [club] president’s footsteps and picking up where she left off.”

That first big step was Bradley’s annual activities fair, which brought a successful turnout, according to the club president.

“When I was a freshman, there were maybe 13 of us,” Arroyo said. “At the activities fair, we had over 55 people sign up … I am really happy to see so many people signed up.”

Hosting blood drives is one of the leading goals of the club. Paige Bunzell is also a junior biomedical science major and the club’s blood drive coordinator.

“I am really looking forward to doing events with everyone back on campus,” Bunzell said. “Last year it was very difficult for us to do blood drives on campus and to get a large turnout for those events, I think this year we will have higher numbers than we have had in the past just because everyone is so eager to be back in person,”

Besides hosting blood drives, the organization has been expanding its vision to be a larger voice on campus.

“We do a lot of things regarding worldwide crises, like Hurricane Ida and the situation in Afghanistan,” Arroyo said. “We are trying to provide awareness and hold fundraisers. Everything is in the works right now.”

Bunzell also spoke to the large-scale humanitarian efforts their service provides.

“The Red Cross provides so many amazing programs and disaster relief to individuals in need and it feels great being a part of such a giving and important organization,” Bunzell said.

A pre-pandemic event hosted by the club was held under the name, “Pound The Alarm.” Club members would go to houses in the Peoria area and change smoke detectors to promote both safety and their club. Club members are looking forward to more similarly creative ideas as the year progresses.

In response to the Bradley Red Cross Club being chosen for the Student Organization Service Award this past school year, Arroyo could not believe it.

“For me it was a bit of a shock. A surprise, but a warm surprise,” Arroyo said. “A lot of us forget about the accomplishments we make and just keep going through life without looking back and realizing all the good we have done.”

Bunzell is also pleased with the recognition.

“Our club has really been trying to implement more services and volunteer opportunities within the Peoria community, so it feels really great to be recognized for our work,” Bunzell said.

While perhaps surprising for Arroyo, the club hosts multiple service events. Every year Bradley Red Cross competes against ISU in ‘The Battle of I-74.’ While ISU may have more students, Bradley has received more donations in the past two years.

Beating ISU in a competition is one way to get noticed around campus, but Arroyo is thankful for his executive board and all their hard work as he couldn’t have done it without them.

Another big contributor to the club’s success has been Caleb Liggin, a representative from the Red Cross. He helps the local chapter stay connected with the larger organization and assists with events at Bradley.

Arroyo said this organization has been a positive influence on Bradley’s campus and on himself.

“I have really had to step up in terms of leading the organization and being a person that others look up to,” Arroyo said. “I have become more outspoken, active and proud of the work I do.”

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