Local mother Karla Lopez, 26, wants the best for her 18-month-old son Sebastian, and pursuing a college degree is exactly how she plans to fulfill that goal, she said.
Considered a young mother in her Hispanic community, the Hickory resident plans to register for more courses at Gaston College’s Lincoln campus next semester, but until then, doesn’t have the funds to work and attend school, having recently started a new job.
Financial struggle was her motivation for hosting two area blood drives this past summer with Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) in hopes of winning a scholarship.
“I want a good future for him,” Lopez said of Sebastian. “I want to be a good example.”
Not only did she learn that for every one person who donates blood, three lives are saved, but she also discovered just how difficult it is to round up blood donors.
Lopez worked to gather as many people as possible for her two events, which she held in June and August in Gastonia.
She started by looking to her family for support, even encouraging her husband, who’s scared of needles, to donate.
“I told him he didn’t have a choice,” she said, laughing.
She went through the contact lists on family members’ phones for additional prospective donors.
“I tried to educate and convince them,” she said.
Lopez was one of five students who received a $1,000 CBCC scholarship for collecting the most funds from their individual blood drives, part of the organization’s student blood drive competition.
While Lopez recruited around 100 people, only 68 met all the official donor requirements and gave blood.
She now plans to use the money to cover college courses in the field of office administration and human resources.
She is also not done educating people about the need for blood.
“I know it’s a gift of life,” Lopez said.
Over the holidays, she is set to host another drive through CBCC — Holiday Heroes Blood Drive — for yet another chance to win scholarship money.
This time around, only one winner will be selected, she said.
Through her and local teacher Bartley Bess’s two blood drives, the colleges students saved nearly 400 lives, according to CBCC’s Public Relations Specialist Jenni Walker, of Walker PR Group.
In his eighth year at Love Memorial Elementary School in Vale, Bess teaches fifth grade, but in the past, has also taught first grade.
He is planning to use to his scholarship money for a career transition from the classroom to the pulpit.
However, the West Lincoln High School graduate doesn’t consider the switch too random since both involve teaching.
“I love…trying to make a difference in people’s lives so really the career change isn’t that drastic,” he said. “I want to keep doing something with education.”
Once he felt the Lord’s call on his life, Bess had to obey, enrolling in the masters of divinity program at Gardner-Webb University.
He anticipated completing his degree in three years since he recently had to cut back following the birth of he and his wife Krystal’s first child, Noelle Louise, earlier this month.
For more information on Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, visit cbcc.us.