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December 25, 2013

How blood donors can also donate prom gowns to less fortunate teens

— This ball won’t require the wearing of a special dress, but it will give blood donors the chance to donate a special dress for someone else.

The annual Lifesaver’s Ball hosted by the American Red Cross will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 4 at Richland Volunteer Fire Department’s banquet facility, 1321 Scalp Ave., Richland Township.

Those who donate blood also can bring new or slightly used prom gowns, shoes and accessories to donate to the YWCA’s Cinderella Project.

This year will be the second collaboration of the Red Cross, YWCA Greater Johnstown and the Cinderella Project.

The Cinderella Project has assisted more than 700 teens from a five-county area since the program’s inception eight years ago.

Project coordinator Megan Seese said she wasn’t sure what her group would get out of last year’s first collaboration, but she ended up receiving donations all day long.

“One woman who was not going to have a prom dress business any more gave us two carloads full,” Seese said. “I think this is helpful for the community to have another location where they can drop donations off.”

A donation spot for the Cinderella Project will be located where the public will enter the banquet facility.

“We use the coat rack there to hang our donations,” Seese said. “They can then continue on to give blood, but they don’t have to give blood to donate a dress.”

Seese is looking forward to another good year for donations.

“People still have dresses in their closet or they might have just had an event and are looking for somewhere to donate,” she said.

Volunteers from the YWCA and the Cinderella Project will serve as blood drive volunteers and accept the donation of prom gowns.

Marianne Spampinato, communications manager, American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Blood Services, said the blood drive goal for this year is 100 productive blood donations.

“Last year, through our initial collaboration with the YWCA and the Cinderella Project, we collected 81 blood donations and more than 200 dresses and accessories, so reaching our goal of 100 blood donations is certainly doable,” Spampinato said.

She added that blood donors of all types are needed, especially O negative, A negative and B negative.

“Rh-negative blood types can potentially be transfused to both Rh-positive and Rh-negative patients,” Spampinato explained. “Type O negative blood is universal and can potentially be transfused to patients with any blood type, which is why it’s often used in emergency situations.”

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days, and most healthy people are eligible to donate blood and platelets.

Donors should be age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, and weigh at least 110 pounds.

They are advised to eat before coming and will be provided with food and refreshments after donating blood.

Donors will be entered in drawings for prizes and will receive a Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.       

“Help make dreams come true for hospital patients who depend on blood transfusions and at the same time help area teens live out their dream of attending their school prom,” Spampinato said.

The Red Cross also is seeking donations of shoes, jewelry and styling services for a prom basket drawing to be conducted during the Cinderella Project’s Try On Weekends on March 15 and 22.  

Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/RuthRiceTD.

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