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Off-field Ohio State-Michigan battles facilitate blood donations, canned food drives

Shelby Bradford, a first-year chemistry major, gives blood as part of the annual Blood Battle, a competition between OSU and Michigan to see who can donate the most blood, at Baker Hall Nov. 15, 2010. Credit: Lantern file photo

Shelby Bradford, a first-year chemistry major, gives blood as part of the annual Blood Battle, a competition between OSU and Michigan to see who can donate the most blood, at Baker Hall Nov. 15, 2010.
Credit: Lantern file photo

The yearly Ohio State-Michigan clash on the gridiron is a classic rivalry in college football, but the stadium isn’t the only place fans fly their colors. Thousands of OSU students, staff and faculty participate in community service activities each year in an attempt to best the Wolverines. OSU versus Michigan Blood Battle The OSU versus University of Michigan Blood Battle, which began in 1982, has been raging between the two universities for more than 30 years, said Rodney Wilson, the communications manager for the Central Ohio Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. The Blood Battle at OSU is coordinated by the Central Ohio Blood Services Region, Wilson said. Wilson, though, said while he isn’t sure of the origins of the Blood Battle competition, the impact OSU can make in the community through the event is enormous. “Each school has a goal of reaching 2,500 blood donations,” Wilson said. “When you split the blood through donation into three products like we do into platelets, plasma and red blood cells they have the potential to save three lives. One school alone in the battle has the potential to impact 7,500 patients … The impact is enormous.” The blood donated by OSU students and faculty is distributed to Columbus residents as well as other counties in the Central Ohio region, Wilson said. November can sometimes be a problematic month because of a decline in blood donations during the holiday season, but the Blood Battle helps to motivate students to donate, Wilson said. “This competition … generates a lot of excitement so it helps us at a time where we know blood donations would be decreasing otherwise,” Wilson said. The American Red Cross Club at OSU also contributes to the planning and success of the Blood Battle on campus. “We supply volunteers for all of the blood drives, help market them and help reach out to other organizations that might want to partner with us,” said Edward Zitnik, a fourth-year in molecular genetics and president of the American Red Cross Club. “When we have more than 60 drives in the month of November, it is really hard to supply volunteers at all of them with our club alone.” Zitnik said he is glad the drive is able to make a positive impact based on the OSU-Michigan rivalry. “Regardless of how the Blood Battle ends every year, both schools celebrate tremendously because we collected upwards of 5,000 units of blood in just a month and that can save up to (15,000) lives,” Zitnik said. “Either way, our impact is very strong. It’s really fun to win the trophy and be the ones who take home the victory, but we know that both schools are winning in a sense because we are making that impact on our communities.” OSU is currently losing the Blood Battle to Michigan with about 1,800 donations compared to the nearly 2,400 donations collected by Michigan. OSU won the competition last year, as well as winning the football game, 26-21. Zitnik said there’s still time for OSU to win again. “Last year, for instance, we were down for the entire blood battle, I actually don’t think we were ever ahead,” Zitnik said. “We are really counting on all the staff and students here to come out like they have in the past and help us pull out a win again.” Some students donated because they heard OSU was losing to Michigan. “I know that Michigan has a lot more people donating right now so we wanted to help out the OSU cause and donate,” said Taylor Fante, a first-year in exploration. “I saw the advertisements in my dorm that showed that Michigan was ahead of us by about 300.” Carly Abraham, a first-year in chemistry, said connecting the rivalry to the Blood Battle is an effective strategy. “It is definitely a good strategy to get people to donate blood by saying it was OSU versus Michigan because that is what got me (to donate),” Abraham said. “But it is obviously a great thing to donate blood because it only takes a couple minutes out of your day to sit here and save three lives.”   The Battle Against Hunger Another competition seeking to channel the passion of the rivalry is the Battle Against Hunger, sponsored by Pay It Forward. The Battle Against Hunger aims to encourage OSU students to become more aware of hunger in their communities and fight that issue with various student organizations having food drives on campus. The organizations then report their collections to Pay It Forward to see which school can donate the most canned goods. Marla Trinidad, a fourth-year in classics and globalization and the executive director for Pay It Forward, said her organization helps contributes to the competition in several ways. “We provided the resources such as locations for weighing food, places to donate, information for organizations that have never conducted a food drive,” Trinidad said. “A lot of it was promoting their events.” Trinidad said the organization used social media to get messages about the Battle Against Hunger out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She said connecting the rivalry to the Battle Against Hunger adds to the excitement of the competition. “Competition usually adds a little excitement to any activity that you do,” Trinidad said. “So many people are passionate about being a Buckeye and to connect it with the passion of helping other people and making a difference in the community is a really great connection … It’s a really cool thing to see how it can motivate students to fight the battle against hunger.” Pay It Forward is collaborating with about 17 student organizations on campus such as Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, the OSU Swim Club, Circle K Club and the Muslim Student Association. OSU has the lead so far, Trinidad said with more than 9,800 pounds of collected items compared to Michigan’s 2,200 pounds. Third-year in microbiology Mark Lampert, the vice president of campus engagement for Sigma Phi Epsilon, said the collaboration between Sigma Phi Epsilon and Pay It Forward contributed to the success of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s food drive this year. “Since we already do this food drive every year, we are trying make it more collaborative and (integrated) in the Ohio State community, while at the same time our big goal is fighting against hunger and poverty,” Lampert said. “It always feels good to beat Michigan and we were able to contribute something towards that. Our goal is always to help more and more people.”   Justin Cline contributed to this article.

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