ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Rock River Valley Blood Center announced the winner of a blood challenge.

The event took place Tuesday at Guilford High School, 5620 Spring Creek Rd. The RRVBC partnered with local schools to make it happen. Stateline schools urged parents and alumni to donate blood during the months of March, April and May. This year’s winner was Freeport High School, who defended their 2021 title to win back-to-back years.

A teacher at Guilford said that it is important to have blood in the community.

“People struggle to realize how important the blood is to our community, how fast it’s used and taken in our town,” said Jeremiah Tews. “And the other part is people don’t realize how much we need, how much our hospitals use our blood, so every chance that we can get in our high schools is a huge chunk of where we collect our blood.”

Blood donation centers have seen a significant drop in donors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to a nationwide shortage. The RRBVC needs 800 donors per week to supply enough blood to the 13 hospitals in the region.

“A lot of kids our age don’t really think about giving blood, so it’s a good opportunity,” said Guilford student Taylor.

Taylor, Tessa and Alexandra are juniors at Guilford High School. They all took part in the region-wide competition with local schools in hopes to get more donors. It seems to be working.

In their second year, RRVBC said that they reached 2,400 donors.

“We’re just trying to do our part and create a competition that helps everybody’s needs,” Tews said.

Many blood drives had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Guilford’s Health and Science Academy came up with “Schools Unite to Save Lives” as a result. Tews said that this also gives students interested in the medical field a hands-on experience.

Nursing, pediatrics and radiation therapy are a part of these girls’ future plans.

“You’re starting so early, and this is what’s going to continue on,” Alexandra said. “It’s going to help you now and later.”

That is what organizers hope to do with this event continuing on.

“We’re trying to create a future pipeline for the students to show that donating is good and something they can start young and donate for a lifetime,” Tews said. “So the more donators we create, you know, the better our community is, the healthier our community can be.”

Freeport High School brought in 10% of total donors, which means that 240 people donated on behalf of the high school. Organizers said that that is a lot.