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His ideal retirement present is a gift that benefits others

In honor of his 100th donation and his upcoming retirement, Elmira District Secondary School principal Paul Morgan has partnered with Canadian Blood Services to help recruit new donors and fill appointments for the November 30 blood donor clinic in Elmira.

Donating blood has been very near and dear to his heart – he’s been a routine donor for more than 20 years – but this time is even more special.

“I have been 33 years on the [school] board and the whole works, and my thinking is I don’t really need a gift for retiring, but if you think that you wanted to give me a gift, this is your gift to me: just donate. It is a much bigger, better gift. It’s not about me, it’s about lots of people then,” he said.

Morgan was approached in late summer about rallying up people to help improve the declining donation numbers in Elmira.

“Out of the blue at the end of August, before I had approached them about doing anything for this, I got an email sent to me [as] the principal of the school saying,‘We have been having troubles in Elmira. We are not hitting our targets, is there anything that you think as a school you might be able to do?’”

While the target donations in Elmira has been 115 slots each month, the clinic has come up short averaging on a good month between 85-100 – while bad months have brought in just over half of the required donations.

“He was so excited about doing something to celebrate his 100th donation as well as his retirement and then getting students on board to hopefully get in some new donors, as well, to help us with that in the future,” said Tara Gutscher, territory manager with Canadian Blood Services, noting that every year they lose a large number of donors.

“Every year we need 40 per cent new people to come in and donate blood. So it is so important that people do start when they are younger and make it a part of their everyday routines so that it is just something that they do on a regular basis.”

While all donations head to Brampton to be tested before being used, Gutscher explained that when blood is donated locally it tends to return to that local area.

“It is really helping somebody that could be your neighbour. People don’t realize how many people around them have needed blood,” she said, noting that around 52 per cent of Canadians say that they or a family member have needed blood in their lifetime. “If you think about that, every other person you see in a day knows somebody or has personally needed blood – it really brings it home who you are helping when you come in and donate.”

While Morgan says the idea of giving blood can be a little off-putting to some people, in this case the reward really outweighs the risk.

“People are squeamish, don’t think they want to do it until somebody in their family needs it. It’s so easy, you know, for the one hour that it takes out of our life every two months,” he said. “None of us expect that we are going to be in that position, none of us ever want to be in that position, and one medical issue, one accident, that’s all it takes.”

Although they do not do a blood drive at the high school, the organization will be opening up the drive early on November 30 to accommodate the students’ schedule and help to bring up participation and donation numbers.

His hope is that this drive will encourage more people to come out and to continue to be donors.

“It is kind of a passion of mine. The more I did it, the more I wanted to do it – it’s just really easy,” he said. “What I would really love to have happen is to have some students, staff, others colleagues who would be willing to do it for the first time who then make it a habit.”

Ending his career at EDSS, a school known for being community centered, has really made this experience come full circle for the retiring principal.

“It is a terrific school. This school is unlike any other school I have been at. It is a community school first and foremost, it is kind of like a hub of the community – it has been like that for decades,” he said. “We have incredible staff. We have incredible students. The parental support is just amazing. As a community, it is just so different and we get supported by the community in all we want to do.”

Morgan will be giving his 100th blood donation on November 30. The clinic will be open from 2-8 p.m. at Lions Hall in Elmira.

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