ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local blood bank recognized a pair of schools who came out on top in an annual competition.

It was the third year for Rock River Valley Blood Bank’s “Schools Unite to Save Lives.” Almost 50 stateline schools urged parents and alumni to give blood during the months of March, April and May.

The overall winner was Jefferson High School. The “J-Hawks” helped bring in 281 donations. Among other small schools, Forreston took home the title with 123 donors.

Organizers said that the competition has helped bring numbers back up after COVID-19.

“In the past couple years, it has helped us to get high schoolers more involved and the communities more involved donating blood. And, so, it’s been a great way for us to get those collections back up again,” said Maggie Anderson, donor recruiter at Rock River Valley Blood Center. “So, like I said, in 2021 we were around 1,000 collections for this challenge and now, we’re almost up to 3,000 collections.”

The Rock River Valley Blood Bank supplies blood to 13 area hospitals.