Jessica Mascolino was in third grade in Patterson, New York, when she learned that her friend Nicole Moccio had a rare blood disease. Nicole needed donations of healthy blood to treat the disease. Jessica wanted to help, but she was too young to donate blood. So she found another way to pitch in. With the support of the Little Doctors program, she started planning blood drives.
At a blood drive, people volunteer to donate their blood so it can be given to someone who needs it. With Jessica's help, more than 1,800 pints of healthy blood have been collected. "It's important to know that giving blood can save someone's life," Jessica, who is now 18, told TFK.
Calling on Kids
Little Doctors got its start in 1996 when sixth-grade teacher Karen Brothers worked with her students to organize a blood drive. "The kids were just amazing," says Andrea Cefarelli, who works at New York Blood Center. "They asked their parents, neighbors and teachers to give blood." They recruited more than 140 donors, and the Little Doctors program was born.
Today, more than 300 schools in New York and New Jersey participate. "Kids design posters, recruit donors and work at blood drives," says Cefarelli. The blood collected each year helps save thousands of lives.
Cefarelli and others at the New York Blood Center are working to take the program to other states. "The Little Doctors program is limitless," Cefarelli says. "Each year, the kids teach us something different."
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