ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Local students are taking on a friendly competition to help fill a critical need in our area, as part of Rock River Valley Blood Center’s “School’s United! to Save Lives” program.

More than 30 local schools are participating in the blood drive, where students at Rockford-area schools will have the chance to donate blood. The school with the most donations will determine the winner.

Freeport has held the title for the past couple of years.

Friends, parents, and grandparents can give blood and tell the blood center which school they’re rooting for, and that school will get points.

Rock River Valley Blood Center CEO Heidi Ognibene said, “We really need to reach our children in our community, because they’re going to be the face of the future and we need them to have a great experience: come out and donate, realize what they can do for the community and give back. And maybe make it a life-saving pattern for their whole lives.”

The blood center says an hour of one’s time can save up to three people.

Ognibene said blood reserves could have been used to help those injured in the recent 85-car pileup on I-39/90 last Friday.

“Yeah, we were able to send blood up there. We didn’t use it, because thank goodness it wasn’t terrible. But, had it been a [more serious] situation, that might not have been so good,” she said.

For more information, visit the Rock River Valley Blood Center.