WEST BEND -- Hundreds of West Bend High School students rolled up their sleeves and donated blood for a good cause on Wednesday, Dec. 11 -- many to honor a teacher.
"Our goal was 239 people as of yesterday, we were at 315," said Madison Jochims, West Bend High School student.
With a smile from ear to ear, it's pretty clear Madison Jochims was more than happy to donate.
Turnout is up, way up for the annual BloodCenter of Wisconsin holiday drive.
"What they are doing really makes a difference, and it really impacts lives," said Kelli Smith, BloodCenter of Wisconsin. "To see it in action warms your heart."
Warming hearts and giving teacher Gerald Sorce hope. Gerald held his wife Kelly's hand as she gave birth to their first child and stunned as she lost a third of her blood during the delivery.
Thanks to strangers, Kelly's doctors could. She received a lifesaving transfusion of three bags of donated blood.
Kelly, who also teaches at West Bend High School, is recovering on maternity leave but she came to school to see the event her students held in her honor.
Kelly is still too shaken to share her story, but more than happy to share hugs with those helping her pay it forward.
"Without them I don't know where we would be right now. I just can't say thank you enough to those people," Gerald said.
This is only thanks to Sorce's students' need: seeing a healthy Kelly smiling back at them.
"This year is really, you are saving one of your own," said Jochims.
There is always a need for blood. The donations in West Bend will be distributed to hospitals by the BloodCenter of Wisconsin throughout the state.