American Farmers and Ranchers blood drive at Oklahoma Youth Expo saved lives

Participants in this year’s Oklahoma Youth Expo took time away from the show ring to donate enough blood to save 168 lives. The blood drive was a joint effort between the AFR Women’s Cooperative Council, the Oklahoma Blood Institute and OYE.

“This was absolutely phenomenal,” said Debi Thompson, AFR Women’s Cooperative Council member from Chandler, Oklahoma, who helped coordinate the blood drive.

“Our goal was to surpass last year’s event at OYE and we almost doubled it,” Thompson said. Last year 29 donors participated and this year 56 people stepped up to donate.

“We know there is always a need for blood and this is a good chance to give back to our community,” Thompson said. “This teaches the younger people how important it is to give blood and they often bring their families.”

That was the case with Tyler Jenkins and his father, Earl. Tyler attends Norman High School and was also showing livestock at OYE.

“I just feel like it’s my way to give back to the community,” Tyler said. “It’s a great feeling knowing you helped someone.”

The 16-year-old added this was also a great “bonding time” with his dad.

“We always come together and give blood together, it’s a family thing, a little bit of a bonding time for us,” Tyler said.

Earl Jenkins said it is a good way to encourage his son to be involved in the community.

“We try to give back to the community as much as we can,” Earl said.

The elder Jenkins is a member of the Goldsby Volunteer Fire Department and is a rural mail carrier, so he knows a thing or two about giving back to the community.

“He (Tyler) wants to be on the fire department too, and volunteers do a lot for the community so this is just one more way to help,” Earl said.

As an added benefit for high school students, the Oklahoma Blood Institute will honor graduating seniors for donating blood through OBI’s Honor Cord Program. Students much be enrolled by April 30 of graduating year. When they donate six times by May 1 of their senior year, they will receive a certificate and an honor cord to wear on their graduation robe.

Tyler is well on his way to meeting the OBI requirement. One has to wonder when he finds the time. The teenager is also serving as president of the Norman FFA chapter.

“This is just how I was raised,” Tyler said. “Mom and dad, and my sister are all active in the community.”

The Jenkins own and operate a farm and ranch near Norman and are AFR members.

The AFR Women’s Cooperative Council is sponsoring a year-long initiative to promote blood drives throughout Oklahoma in partnership with the OBI. As the nation’s ninth largest non-profit blood center, Oklahoma Blood Institute relies solely on 1,200 volunteer blood donors a day to meet the needs of patients at more than 160 hospitals and medical facilities statewide.

More than 825 lives were saved as the result of blood donations made during AFR-sponsored blood drives in 2017.

Sign up for HPJ Insights

Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

“From our very beginning, more than 100 years ago, we have focused on serving rural Oklahoma communities,” Terry Detrick, AFR president, said. “Improving the lives of rural Oklahomans has always been our priority.”