Pictured (left to right) are Liberty High School Red Cross Club members Gitika Badiga, Aishwarya Somakandan, Sadhana Nori, and Adithi Math taking part in a Trick or Treat event held last Halloween.

Submitted by William Wang

Olentangy Liberty High School rising junior Aizvereah Somakandan set out during the pandemic in 2020 to volunteer with the American Red Cross; however, to her dismay, she couldn’t volunteer due to an age requirement prohibiting students under 16 from volunteering. Aizvereah, despite the pushback, was determined to find another way to volunteer: creating a Red Cross Club at Olentangy Liberty High School.

She created the Red Cross Club at Liberty in March 2022 with many goals. When asked about her goals for the club, Aizvereah said, “I wanted to gain experience, and I wanted to give experience to younger kids.” She wanted to help people like herself — those who wanted to be a part of the Red Cross and gain valuable training and leadership opportunities but were too young. Additionally, the club has a mission to empower local youth younger than 16 and provide service opportunities for fellow students. For instance, Somakandan wanted to give students at Olentangy Liberty High School the opportunity to help their community and its medical needs and gain exposure to the medical field.

“Through this club, we grow connections, and students can also get verified in CPR and first aid training through this organization,” Somakandan elaborated.

Now a year later, Olentangy Liberty High School’s Red Cross Club has been a source of leadership and hope that provides help and support for those in need.

The Red Cross Club is an organized group of registered students and an extension of the local Red Cross region in Ohio and Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) station. Members of the Red Cross Club must compete in at least three events. These events range from blood services to medical campaigns/fundraisers. Through the 2022-2023 school year, Olentangy Liberty’s Red Cross Club has embarked on five events. The club organized a blood drive, did multiple food fundraisers, and created a Trunk or Treat event during Halloween.

When asked about the blood drive results, Somakandan exclaimed, “Our goal initially was 30 blood units donated, but we exceeded our goals and had 45 blood units donated.”

Besides these projects, club members have packaged commodities and created thank you cards during meetings to give to veterans. From the club’s various projects, events, and campaigns, Liberty’s Red Cross Club has created a huge impact across the Powell community during the school year. Even in the summer, the club continues to raise money for the Powell community.

The Red Cross organization is a humanitarian organization dedicated to providing support and relief to those in need during times of crisis and disaster, and the Red Cross Club at OLHS truly embodies the organization’s noble duty.

Interested students can sign up for the club by asking a Red Cross member or engaging on its Instagram page during the upcoming school year.

Nivi Kadiam, Nandini Uppala, William Wang, and Varsha Banumukkala are Olentangy Liberty High School students and members of the Powell Youth Council, which is a student-governed nonprofit organization recognized and partnered with the City of Powell. Created in March of 2022 by Wang, Powell Youth Council’s purpose is to give a voice and power to the youth of Powell in local decisions and projects, show how local leaders create projects and decisions, and motivate the youth to help their community.