Emma Alexander says her best birthday party gift was when she and her friends celebrated by donating blood.
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Every two seconds someone in America needs a particular gift…one that my friends and I can share. So, for my seventeenth birthday, I wanted my friends to give something more special than presents: blood.
I walked into the Red Cross with a homemade paper party hat on my head and a cluster of nervous, laughing teenagers at my back. Despite the novelty and excitement, I was terrified, nauseated, and not at all happy.
As I sat anxiously in the lobby on the morning of my first blood donation, I agonized over my crippling fear of needles and wondered why I hadn’t just had a normal birthday party.
But as it turns out, giving blood really isn’t that bad…in fact, it was kind of fun. Perhaps it was the experience of facing an irrational fear, or perhaps it was the knowledge that what we were doing helps others, but something about the experience had all of us hooked.
Aside from being a life-saving charitable act, giving blood has proven to be an addictive and enriching social activity. I never thought that I would look forward to any experience involving a needle, but every trip I make to the Red Cross is a rewarding one. As it turns out, giving the gift of life to others was the best birthday present I’ve ever received.