Local Youth Member Organizes Blood Drive in a Time of Need

Hannah working at the registration table at the blood drive.

Ask any 17-year-old what they’ve been up to and you’ll probably be answered with something along the lines of “preparing for college,” “enjoying organized school extracurriculars” or “hanging out with friends.”

Ask 17-year-old Hannah Jussel and “saving lives” can be added to that list.

A senior at Yankton High School in Yankton, S.D., Catholic United Youth Member, Hannah Jussel can be found on stage competing for first place with her High School Dance Team or cheering on her school’s basketball and football teams from the sidelines. But once the COVID pandemic hit, she knew she wanted to help her community and those in need that are suffering from the global health crisis. After her high school canceled its annual blood drive due to the pandemic, she knew her community still needed help more than ever, and that’s when Hannah decided to organize a blood drive at her local parish.

Hannah contacted LifeServe Blood Center in early summer of 2021 to begin the planning process. The blood drive then took place on August 14, 2021 at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Yankton. “My parents were very supportive of it. They were encouraging and helped me spread the word,” Hannah said. “My friends also helped spread the word. I made a flyer and put them up around town. I also shared information about the drive on social media. Everyone was very supportive of it.”

All the planning that took place was well worth it, as Hannah’s blood drive was certainly a success. Over the course of four hours, approximately 30 people came in to give blood. “Once the event ended, LifeServe informed me that this drive saved over 70 lives,” Hannah said. “I was like, ‘WOW!’ I knew a lot of people needed blood, especially during COVID, so to hear how many people the blood impacted was definitely the most rewarding part for me.” The blood that was donated during this drive will be used to treat patients in local hospitals.

Fr. Bob Lacey of St. Benedict’s Parish gives blood during the event.

Catholic United Financial sponsored the event, providing $500 worth of gift cards ($50 each) to give away to donors in a randomized drawing. “One donor didn’t know we were giving away gift cards and when I randomly drew her number and gave it to her on her way out, she was so happy and almost started crying,” Hannah recalled. “She told me how much she needed that gift card at that point in time. That really opened my eyes to the impact this event was having on people.”

Not only did Hannah help so many by organizing this blood drive, but this blood drive also helped her. “I learned a lot from this event. Communication, organizational and leadership skills I think are really going to take me far,” Hannah said. “Those skills will also help me in college and my future career path in general.”

Hannah became a Catholic United Member when she was just two years old. When asked why she enjoys being a member of Catholic United Financial, she said, “I remember Catholic United did a Gather4Good® event at my church a while ago and that was one of my very first volunteer experiences. I really liked the fellowship and community of Catholic United. Volunteering and helping others is what I think about most when it comes to being a member.”

After graduation, Hannah is planning on attending either South Dakota State University or Creighton University for her undergraduate degree. After she completes her undergrad, she would like to continue her education to become a dentist.