The small town of Barnesville, population 4,200, has made a big impact over the past 33 years thanks to the annual Barnesville Blood Bash. The student-run, community-supported blood donation event has helped save almost 10 times the town's population, or 39,000 lives.

What started as a small community service project, and collected 100 units of blood its first year, has grown into a daylong celebration. This year's 34th event, scheduled for May 5, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Barnesville High School, aims to collect 500 units of blood. Each donation can save up to three lives.

"We're a small school that does really, really well with this drive," said Jill Crosier, a biology teacher at the high school (population 360) who has been blood drive coordinator for 10 years. "It's grown over the years because the students have made it bigger. And we have a community that's willing to support giving blood."

Students recruit two donors each in order to participate in the day's activities (or donate blood themselves and recruit one other donor). "The community knows this, so they are willing to come and donate for the kids," said Crosier.

The community supports the drive in other ways, with local sponsors paying for T-shirts designed by students that are given to each participating donor, and some businesses providing small tokens such as $5 gift cards. This year, the state police are setting up their simulator that shows the hazards of drunk driving.

The day of the Blood Bash, students work shifts at various tasks, from set up to registering and welcoming donors, walking them from station to station, running the canteen area, and cleaning up. Students provide babysitting for donors as well.

The day has taken on a tailgate-like atmosphere, with students setting up tents, grilling food and playing games like cornhole and Frisbee, said Crosier. But underlying it all is the importance of community service, something Barnesville teachers try to impress upon their students.

"Most of the teachers here feel it's important to give back and we teach our students about giving to their school and their community," she added.

For Central Blood Bank (CBB), the nonprofit that collects the blood, Barnesville's Blood Bash is one of its largest one-day blood drives, and the entire collection staff is assigned to the event. CBB is the supplier to 50 area hospitals and healthcare facilities, including Barnesville Hospital, Wheeling Hospital and Reynolds Memorial Hospital, and must collect about 500 units per day to meet local patients' needs.

"The Barnesville Blood Bash is an amazing event, and we are very thankful to the students, teachers, school staff and the town for supporting this event for so long," said Sherri Harrison, director of mobile recruitment at CBB. "They are truly making a lifesaving impact in their community."

To schedule a blood donation appointment for Blood Bash, contact Jill Crosier at 740-425-3617 ext. 5235, or via email at jill.crosier@bevsd.org . In addition to donating whole blood, people are also asked to donate platelets and plasma to help provide local patients with exactly what they need.

Donors can also register through the centralbloodbank.org website or mobile apps. Save time the day of the drive by completing the required health history through Central Blood Bank's DonorPass, also on the website. The FDA requires that the online health history questionnaire be completed on the same day as your donation (beginning at 12:01 a.m.).

To donate whole blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16-and 17-years-old with signed parental consent form) and weigh at least 110 pounds. More info on website: http://www.centralbloodbank.org/barnesville-blood-bash.