Last summer, Hopkinton High School junior Dhaneshwar “Dhanu” Senthilkumaran was volunteering as a youth Red Cross ambassador and community volunteer. He noticed that some of his fellow volunteers had Red Cross Clubs at their schools and were able to connect with community members through their participation.
Noting that his “passion for the medical field” prompted him to apply to be an ambassador, he began thinking, “I want to create this type of atmosphere at HHS.”
To achieve that, Senthilkumaran filled out an application to start a club. He noted that for one to be approved, a club must demonstrate a purpose and what is entailed in its running.
“I found out a number of years ago, the school did have a Red Cross Club, but as people graduated, it died out. So, I revived it last fall,” he explained.
In order to attract members, Senthilkumaran said he reached out to friends who also had an interest in the medical field and advertised the activity during the HHS club fair, meant to attract students to a variety of extracurriculars.
The 20 members now meet weekly on Mondays after school, and during the school year they organized a number of activities in support of the Red Cross including bake sales, a walk-a-thon, can sales, food drives and blood drives.
HHS English and language arts teacher Jennifer Hedges is the advisor for the club. She noted that the students, assisted by the Red Cross, held a blood drive where they were able to donate more units of blood than in previous years.
“I feel that this is important especially as the pandemic has impacted the health community so significantly,” she said. “Students and community members came to the auditorium to help by donating blood and I was so proud of the student members of the Red Cross Club for organizing such a major event. This one isn’t easy to navigate or execute, and their organization, effort and fervor made the event seamless.”
Senthilkumaran said getting other students to connect with the larger Hopkinton community and provide humanitarian aid in support of the Red Cross has been a rewarding experience, one he hopes to continue next year.
“It’s taught me about managing a group and being a leader,” he said. “I’ve also learned how to organize events and put things together.”
Hedges said it was important to reinstate the activity because it allows the student population to play a direct role in supporting their community “both near and far.”
As a former Student Council advisor for five years at HHS, Hedges said she got a taste for working with the Red Cross then, as the council used to run a blood drive.
“I was always proud to be a part of organizing an event that had such ripple effects in the community,” she said. “When Dhanu approached me last summer to be the advisor, I was thrilled to join it again and have some familiarity with the group.”
In addition to the Red Cross, Senthilkumaran was part of robotics and debate teams and the Trivia Club. He also has worked on the school newspaper.
Anyone interested in supporting or joining the club can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.