A service learning class is helping to organize the annual campus-wide blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross.
Students in the university’s principles of marketing class are getting new real-life marketing experience by helping with the blood drive as part of a service-learning class.
Kevin Feifer, instructor and director of service learning, was approached by the American Red Cross for a partnership about five years ago to hold a blood drive on campus. He also has his own personal experience with blood donation as a service project.
“When I was in college, this was a service project of mine,” Feifer said. “I had such a great experience; it made an impact on my life. I know that the blood drive that I was a part of when I was at Penn State made an impact on certainly the individuals who needed the blood donations and the impact it had on their lives and their families, so I said this is really cool opportunity for me to embed it in a principles of marketing class.”
Students get the chance to learn content through the service learning experience in the course. They talk about ideas such as how are they going to promote the blood drive on campus to best engage the community, students, faculty and staff to have the most success.
“They’re going to learn what are the best channels to reach our quote-end-quote customer, our blood donor,” Feifer said. “Certainly, a blood donor isn’t necessarily a consumer, but we have to do marketing to best engage a population, so how are we going to do that?”
In terms of donations, a majority of the donors are students. While faulty and staff donate as well, about 95% of the donors are students and the other 5% are faculty and staff members and people from outside the university community who come to donate.
“We typically would have at least one blood drive a year on campus, and normally that blood drive would do roughly 35 through 40 donors. But when it is embedded in a class, we do upwards of 75 to 80 donors, so we double those numbers,” Feifer said.
Adam Myers, a junior mass communication and design major, is a student in the service-learning class who is helping with the blood drive.
“So how I’m contributing is I’m helping with registration and sign-ups,” Myers said. “We do registration at banks throughout the week before the actual blood drive. I and a plethora of other students go out and we try and tell people about the positives and the advantages of donating blood.”
Myers wants to get into marketing in the future and said it is good to work at a principle level because you get a leg up that other people don’t normally get without a service-learning course. He also likes how working for a nationwide organization like the American Red Cross through service learning is something that can be put on a resume because it focuses on more than just classroom work.
“I have been a blood donor for two years now. I’ve never really been asked and that’s actually the number one reason why people don’t donate is because no one actually asks them, so the first time I donated I felt really good,” Myers said. “I just think that it’s kind of important for people to realize how much help you could provide to other people by donating blood. They say you can save at most three lives with one blood donation, and I think that’s very powerful in itself.”