More than 900 students are expected to participate in the annual seven-day Harvard Blood Drive getting under way today, organizers said.
The Memorial Hall event is traditionally one of the largest and most important blood drives in the Northeast, "especially because it's during the holdiday season when it's really difficult to collect blood," said Amanda Livingston, an organizer from the sponsoring American Red Cross.
Organizers expressed concern over a trend in recent years away from donating blood, which they said stemmed from nervousness about the origins of the AIDS virus and a student body that "is not as service-minded."
So far, less than half of the 905-donor goal has been met through sign-ups in House dining halls, said Irene Shih '90, the publicity chair.
"I don't think the goals are unrealistic," Livingston said, adding that remaining donors will have to come from walk-in participants and stepped up recruitment later this week.
After each unit of blood is collected at the blood drive--which is open to anyone over 17 who weighs more than 110 pounds--it is sent to the Red Cross and tested for hepatitis and the antibody which can lead to AIDS.
Livingston said that the blood is then distributed through 150 local hospitals. The process of giving blood takes about 10 minutes.