Forty-six students, faculty and community members met in the T.C. Williams School of Law on Sunday to donate blood in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Black and Muslim Law Student Associations co-hosted the tribute in collaboration with Virginia Blood Services in an effort to engage with the community, said Marium Durrani, president of the Muslim Law Student Association.
“Everyone was affected by such a great tragedy, and as a minority group I think it’s such a great idea to commemorate,” Durrani said. “I think that two minority groups partnering makes it even better. Just thinking about people who lose their lives — it is a really good way to give back, and the blood is actually going to save a life.”
The blood collected at the event will help to relieve summer blood supply shortages in Virginia, said Kwadwo Yehoah-Kankam, president of the Black Law Student Association.
Virginia Blood Services set up its stations and screened participants in the basement of the School of Law. Donors were provided free food and T-shirts and could also enter a raffle to win a $500 Visa gift card.
“It’s all about giving back to your community in a different way,” Durrani said. “This is something where you don’t have to exert much effort or time. What other things can you really do that are this fast, and you save someone’s life in the process?”
The commemorative aspect of the blood drive piqued the interest of senior Eric O’Brien because he is involved in public safety as a member of the Tuckahoe Volunteer Rescue Squad, he said.
“I also donate because for my Boy Scout eagle project I did a blood drive, so I’ve always been involved in it,” O’Brien said. “I think it is important to give, and to just give as much as you can.”
After freshman Leah Gerald discovered that she was a universal donor with blood type ‘O,’ she said she had chosen to donate often.
“I just like to do whatever I can,” Gerald said, “and donating blood is a little thing I can do, so it’s worth it.”
The former president of the Muslim Law Student Association started the blood drive last year to honor the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Durrani said. The law student associations chose to host the drive again this year because of its great success, with more than 100 donors, she said.
Because of Virginia Blood Service’s limited resources this year, Durrani estimated that the staff could accommodate a maximum of 60 donors during the event.
“I actually gave blood for the very first time during this event last year for Sept. 11, and I have been doing it consistently since,” Yehoah-Kankam said. “I am afraid of needles just like everyone else, but it does save lives. My cousin has sickle cell anemia and he gets blood transfusions quite frequently. So, somebody out there definitely needs it. I feel good every time I leave.”
The goal of both the Black and Muslim Law Student Associations is to provide members with the academic and social resources to thrive in law school, Durrani said. The Muslim Law Student Association began at the University of Richmond two years ago after many students recognized a need to fulfill their peer’s’ religious interests. Since then, the association, with 10 to 15 members, has held events to discuss topics such as women’s rights and Palestine in order to provide different perspectives on Islam and the Law, Durrani said.
The Black Law Student Association is the largest student-run organization in the country, Yehoah-Kankam said. The Richmond chapter, with 25 members, sponsors debates, such as the one it hosted following the Trayvon Martin shooting last year, he said.
“A lot of the two organizations’ goals are the same,” Yehoah-Kankam said, “so it just made sense to help out another organization. One of the goals this year is to reach outside the boundaries of the law school. As law students, a lot of times we just confine ourselves to this [the School of Law] building because all of our classes are here and we really do not need to go anywhere else for the most part. This is just one of the many events that we have planned throughout the course of the school year to achieve that goal.”
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