Students make small sacrifice for veterans

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -- Patriotic colors adorned the gym at St. Patrick Catholic High School on Tuesday. The school held a red-white-and-blue blood drive. It wasn't your typical Veteran's Day remembrance.

"It just happened to fall on Veterans Day, and we just decided let's just go all out with the thing. So we decided to have a Veteran's Day extravaganza," said Michelle Robinson, the school's Science Club President.

"Where's the needle at?" a young man asked an American Red Cross staff member.

Nervous teens and teachers lined-up, hoping to donate 84 pints in six hours. Most of the students have donated blood before, but this time, it was dedicated to our military heroes.

"Just out of respect for what they've done for us, and the freedom we have now is because of them," said senior Justin Cooper. "They defended us when we weren't even born."

Some heroes are people they see everyday, like the school's technology manager Jon Rivera. Rivera is a Vietnam War veteran and the Air Force Reservist has served in six other conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It makes me feel good that they fully understand that there's a history, a sense that they know that their freedoms come from other people," said Rivera. "They're involved with more than just words. They're actually doing things."

The students are also collecting clothing, puzzle books, and toiletries for veterans at the Biloxi VA. They consider this gesture a small sacrifice for the men and women who have given so much more.

"The veterans did a lot for our country to protect our freedom, and I just find this is a way to help other people like they did," said Cooper.

"Young people do care and sometimes you have the veterans that think they're just forgotten about," said Robinson. "So hopefully by seeing this, they'll realize that we really remember them, and we hope they know that we care about them."

The students collected 77 pints of blood for the American Red Cross, just seven pints short of their goal.  And they will continue collecting items for the Biloxi VA throughout this week.