The 33rd annual Carolina Blood Drive will take place on June 8 at the Dean E. Smith Center from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The blood drive has been helping save lives for three decades thanks to the campus community and everyday Tar Heels like Steven Bodeen.
Bodeen, a retired Carolina staff member who previously worked in UNC Facilities’ building services department, has been donating blood since the first Carolina Blood Drive. In that time, he’s given 12 gallons. “This blood drive brings an incredible amount of joy to my heart,” he said.
Bodeen first learned about the event in 1988, when he saw posters advertising it on campus. He thought it would be a great way to give back. “It really cost me nothing, and I was helping a lot of people,” he said.
Although Bodeen hasn’t been able to donate the past two years, he continues to volunteer and help out in other ways. “Because I’m 6’3” and a fairly big guy, I escort people from the donation tables to the snack area, and I’ve also worked in the snack area,” he said.
The Carolina Blood Drive has such a significant impact because of the size of the event. “We provide a very big venue for it to happen in rather than in a bloodmobile or an office conference room,” Bodeen explained.
In fact, last year’s blood drive earned the distinction of being the country’s largest single-day blood drive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Carolina collected 808 units of blood at the event, a feat that the American Red Cross honored in a small ceremony in February. Combined, the Carolina Blood Drive and Holiday Carolina Blood Drive have collected more than 33,300 pints of blood since the drives began.
This year, the Carolina Blood Drive is seeking more donations from Black community members to support patients with sickle cell disease, which affects about 100,000 people in the U.S. Their efforts coincide with the American Red Cross’s new initiative to fight sickle cell disease through increased donations.
As with last year, the American Red Cross has implemented CDC-recommended sanitary measures to ensure the health of staff, volunteers and donors. “UNC and the Red Cross have worked very hard to make the Carolina Blood Drive COVID safe,” said Bodeen. That includes physical distancing, hand washing and more.
Those who give blood get a little treat at the end. “You get snacks afterward,” said Bodeen, though that pales in comparison to the “feeling that you’re part of something really big and really good.”
Free parking is available for those traveling to campus to donate. Those interested in participating are encouraged to make an appointment before June 8.