Miami gets back to campus, back to donating

Armstrong Pavilion with students spaced out in chairs waiting to donate bloodDonors wore masks and were physically distanced while waiting. Campus blood drives are a proud tradition at Miami University and its partnership with Community Blood Center is unparalleled. But the 42nd annual Greek Week Blood Drive Sept. 21 and Sept. 23 in the Armstrong Student Center held a special place in history.

Students were sent home in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated and they began the fall semester online. About 40% of students began returning to campus mid-September to begin in-person classes Monday, Sept. 21. On the same day, they carried on the tradition of the Greek Week Blood Drive.

The familiar Greek Week competitions and gatherings were cancelled, but the university allowed the blood drive to continue as a special exception. The number of donors was limited to ensure ample physical distancing in Fritz Pavilion; donors wore masks and had their temperatures checked at the door. Despite the constraints, the two-day blood drive totaled 149 donors and 120 blood donations for 120% of collection goal. True to Greek Week Blood Drive tradition, the blood drive was dominated by 73 first-time donors.

Miami the birthplace of Community Blood Center (CBC) college blood drives with the first Greek Week Blood Drive in 1978. It became a two-day blood drive in 2007 and solidified its dominance as CBC’s largest blood drive. Miami remains CBC’s longest-standing blood drive partner.

By the high standards of previous years, the totals will seem small. But the Greek Week tradition continued and contributed to the CBC blood supply during a time of critical need. Greeks were rewarded with service hours and the blood drive continued a trend of sorority donors outnumbering their fraternity counterparts. This year 87% of donors were female.

“For every year here I’ve done it for Greek Week,” said Emma Blackburn, a junior from Loveland. “I donated my freshman year, even before I was in a sorority. I noticed my freshman year I waited an hour before I donated, there were so many people. Now it’s the opposite of that!”

“We got a bunch of emails that our sorority sent out,” said Kassidy Tensing, a sophomore from Cincinnati. “I’ve donated before and my dad has always given blood.”

“I’ve always wanted to donate,” said Emma Coleman, a junior from Portsmouth donating in support of her sorority Alpha Xi Delta. “With the blood shortage, I wanted to get out there and donate. It’s life-saving.”

Greek Week is the first of the fall semester blood drives, with five more scheduled in the Armstrong Student Center. The next is Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Freshmen Lillian Calhoun from Xenia and Lily Burbridge from Copley have signed up the Oct. 13 blood drive. “We’re here for moral support today,” said Lillian. “I’m really happy we’re here; I’m very excited!”

“I’m also glad we’re allowed to be here now,” said Burbridge. “It’s a lot easier to be in an academic environment and not in my house with my mom and dad working from home!”

They’re glad they have a chance to donate on campus. “Especially with so many things cancelled,” said Burbridge, “and so few willing to donate right now, people who can’t go out and do that.”

How COVID-19 has impacted some Miami donors

Regan Madigan and a nurse during Regan's blood donationRegan Madigan giving blood.

Regan Madigan is a junior from Columbus who made her first lifetime donation at the Greek Week Blood Drive. She was studying abroad for the spring semester at the Miami University Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg when COVID-19 disrupted her plans. “I was supposed to be there for the semester and came home March 13,” she said. “It was a little overwhelming! My parents were visiting. They were on the plane when Trump announced the travel ban. They landed in Amsterdam, then their flight was delayed. They met me and we went home together. It was a little hectic. One flight was cancelled but we got another one. I was extremely nervous when we landed in Washington, D.C. at Dulles Airport. The whole process of screening – that made me very nervous.”

Emma Blackburn, a junior from Loveland, made her fifth lifetime donation at Greek Week. “I actually donated last year at the last blood drive after all the classes were cancelled,” she said. “I was able to donate then. I only have one in-person class this semester. The rest of the professors are online the entire time.”

Abigail Gilbert is a sophomore from Denver, Colorado who donated often while in high school and made her first donation with CBC at the Greek Week Blood Drive. “Everybody is being very careful in Denver,” she said. “I’m a nursing student so I had to be back in August. We’re in the lab.” Abigail has five lifetime donations. 

Madeline Deets during her blood donationMadeline Deets donating blood.Madeline Deets is a sophomore from Minneapolis. “You didn’t go downtown, it was too dangerous,” she said about the protest and civil unrest that followed the George Floyd killing. “I gave blood this summer for the first time,” she said, and made her first donation with CBC at the Greek Week blood drive. “I was not surprised about the blood drive being here.”

Blood donation requirements: Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card. Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at or at CBC branch & blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more, depending on your height), and be in good physical health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changes blood donor eligibility guidelines periodically. Individuals with eligibility questions are invited to email Make an appointment at or call (937) 461-3220.