Knowing the importance of organ donation has been a staple in Jared Swansboro’s life from a young age. Swansboro, a junior English and vocal performance double major from Somerset, is now the president and founder of the Organ Donation Awareness group at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“My mom’s a nurse and she’s been invested in the cause and has worked with CORE (Center for Organ Recovery and Education), and I’ve always helped with awareness campaigns and have helped with things like that, like singing the national anthem at Johnstown Tomahawks games on donation awareness day. When I got here to IUP, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get something like that going here,” Swansboro said.
Swansboro put his plan in motion last year, making sure to go through the proper steps to form the group on campus. He first had to write a constitution for the group before getting it approved by the board of student organizations. The process took several months to complete.
As for its affiliation with CORE, there was no formal process needed.
“They didn’t have any formal requirements,” Swansboro said. “But we keep in touch with them and they help provide us with materials like booklets and other things to hand out.”
Though the group formed just last semester, it already has participated in several awareness activities such as a bake sale, a blood drive and sponsorship of a recent IUP basketball game.
“We’re also taking part in a statewide Organ Donation Awareness challenge and we’re ranked second overall,” Swansboro said. “There’s a prize for the group that spreads the most awareness so we’re trying to hold as many events and get the word out as much as possible. It’s really great that we’re in second in the whole state for being such a new group.”
They have more events planned, though no dates have been set.
“One of our future events is going to be an open mic night,” Swansboro said. “We’re hoping to partner with the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity and advertise around campus for people who want to come out and perform and for people who want to come out and be in the audience for a fun night.”
Swansboro also said they have hopes to hold events in the Oak Grove such as information tables and basket giveaways. “We’re still making lots of plans for what we want to do and how we want to expand next year,” he said.
In addition to its other fundraisers, the club also donates a portion of its yearly dues to the Governor Robert P. Casey Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund, which was established to help raise awareness about the need for donations and inspire more people in Pennsylvania to sign up as donors.
Furthering the club’s own knowledge of the process of organ donation includes a fall trip to a CORE facility. “When we visit they give us a tour and it really helps to explain what it is, what people go through when they’re involved in all aspects of the organ donation process,” Swansboro said.
Besides events and fundraising, Swansboro hopes that the club grows in membership as it continues to spread the message of the importance of organ donation.
“What we really want to focus on is educating people within the IUP community and the Indiana community. We’re also continuing to educate ourselves through the process. It’s a great cause and we really hope people join us in supporting it.”