North Mecklenburg High School HOSA

Alexis Bowland, left, and her sister, Haley, are members of the North Mecklenburg High School HOSA club that’s hoping to win a $1,000 grant through a blood drive Aug. 8.

HUNTERSVILLE – After a disappointing turnout at her club’s blood drive last year, Alexis Bowland is looking to the community outside of North Mecklenburg High to donate at this year’s event.

The rising senior is an officer in the school’s HOSA-Future Health Professionals club, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, and is hoping her organization lands a $1,000 grant from the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, the sponsor of the Aug. 8 blood drive on the North Meck campus.

“We did a bake sale and blood drive last year, but we didn’t have a good turnout,” Bowland said. “And a lot of them didn’t want to wake up early that morning to do that. We mostly recruited high schoolers for the blood drive, which wasn’t a good idea. ... That’s why we wanted to focus on reaching out to the community.”

HOSA is a community-service and competition-based club in which high school students can explore interests in the health care professions. North Meck is the only CMS school north of Charlotte with the club, which Bowland compares to the marketing-themed DECA.

Bowland, who also plays volleyball for the school, wants to pursue a career in psychology. And as the reporter and historian for her school’s HOSA chapter, she’s in charge of creating the club’s monthly newsletter to help spread awareness of the club, which had 10-15 members who regularly came to meetings last school year.

“Because it is a smaller club, we want to make the club a little more legitimate,” she said. “We had 64 members (last) year, but we didn’t have a lot of members show up at meetings. It kind of felt like it was a side thing. It wasn’t always at the forefront on your mind.”

Bowland’s sister, Haley, qualified for the HOSA international competition last year as a freshman after getting first place in both the district and state competitions.

“I was a proud sister,” Alexis Bowland said.

She hopes to have the resources this year for more students to compete.

“We need all of the help that we can get,” she said. “And I think that we have a good set of people this year, and I know I’m very motivated to make a difference on it before I leave and go to college.”

One opportunity to obtain those needed funds is through this blood drive. North Meck’s HOSA is competing for the $1,000 against 65-70 other student groups organizing blood drives across the state through the CBCC Students Saving Summer initiative. To be eligible for the funds, the blood drives must collect a minimum of 35 units. The organization is also providing five $1,000 scholarships to individual students. 

“It’s a great way for groups to help out, and we’re helping them out, too,” said Stacey Groppe, one of CBCC’s donor recruiters. “I’m always very excited when I know that a HOSA club is helping.”

Another student-led drive is Aug. 17 outside the Smoothie King at 8150 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road.

Competition aside, the blood drive will help people. Though the Bowland sisters and their fellow club members won’t actually be administering the donations, they will be on hand to keep things organized and are trying to get the word out to get people to come.

Groppe said that with every donation, three lives are saved.

“It could be a friend or family member, all blood types are needed,” Groppe said. “People forget it’s something that can’t be manufactured. We need live people.”

Bowland understands that the process may be intimidating, especially to her classmates, but hopes they know what it means to someone. 

“You can’t just come in and give a high-five.You’re giving blood, and that’s hard,” Bowland said. “And a lot of people don’t want to do that. Some people don’t have time to do that. It’s a risky thing to do. But we think it can make a difference more than almost any other fundraiser can.”

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