Mecha Blood Drive
M.E.Ch.A. club members sit outside the Masto Conference Center Wednesday afternoon registering and recruiting students for the National Cesar E. Chavez Blood Drive Challenge.

MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College M.E.Ch.A. club members have taken on the National Cesar E. Chavez Blood Drive Challenge again this year, honoring the American Civil Rights leader and promoting his spirit of civic engagement.

Chavez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later United Farm Workers Union, UFW).

A Mexican American, Chavez became the best-known Latino American civil rights activist, and strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support.

After his death he became a major historical icon for the Latino community, organized labor, and liberal movement, symbolizing support for workers and for Hispanic power based on grass roots organizing and his slogan “Sí, se puede” (Spanish for “Yes, one can” or, roughly, “Yes, it can be done”). His supporters say his work led to numerous improvements for union laborers. His birthday, March 31, has become Cesar Chavez Day, a state holiday recognized in Arizona, California, Michigan, New Mexico, Washington, Utah, Wisconsin. Colorado, and Texas.

The National Cesar E. Chavez Blood Drive Challenge was founded in 2009 as a service learning initiative by the Migrant Students Foundation. The event has grown to include the participation of more than 300 college campuses, making it “the largest health service learning initiative in the nation”.

Students, who organize these events, set donation goals and can earn scholarships for reaching them.

Locally, the annual blood drive has become an important event for Big Bend M.E.Ch.A. students.

“Every year during this event students share their knowledge of Cesar Chavez with their peers,” said club advisor MariAnne Zavala-Lopez. “Coordinating this blood drive in honor of Cesar Chavez is twofold – the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez is honored, and with each blood donation three lives are saved.”

M.E.Ch.A. club member Miguel Castaneda said one of the main goals of the event is to encourage their fellow college students to follow Chavez’s example of serving others in need.

“He helped others when needed, and we’re doing the same thing,” said M.E.Ch.A. club member Miguel Castaneda. “Seeing students willing to donate is great.”

Club member Cinthia Coyazo said she was glad to see such a good turnout. More than 20 people showed up to donate during the first day of the drive, and the club is anticipating a similar turnout for the second day. 

“One girl who came earlier told me that when she was younger, she really needed blood and that was why she was donating,” she said. “That was really inspiring.”

The blood drive continues today, March 12.

*Biographical information on Cesar E. Chavez taken from Wikipedia.

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