EAST WHITTIER – While lying on a gurney last week at East Whittier Middle School, parent Angelina Pinedo sheepishly admitted that ignorance was the reason she’d waited so long to donate blood.“I thought I was going to be passing out – white as a ghost,” said Pinedo, 32, a small, thin woman who was among about 50 people who participated in a blood drive Thursday organized by the school, parents and the American Red Cross.“Honestly, when I found out the amount of blood that has to be imported to hospitals because the local communities don’t donate blood – that was an eye opener,” she said. “But I plan to become a regular donor from now on.”Registered Nurse Benita Mulyapatera, who was helping run the East Whittier Middle blood drive, said the Red Cross organizes blood drives at schools throughout the year.But during the holidays, the need for blood donors becomes even greater.“It’s the holidays and people are busy, kids are getting out of school, it’s the flu season, and families are getting ready to leave on vacation,” Mulyapatera said.“There is so much to do with holiday preparations that people don’t have the time to donate, and hospitals end up with blood shortages,” she added.Andy Gutierrez, co-president of the school’s PTSA, said it was actually Hurricane Katrina that prompted the school’s partnership with the Red Cross.After donating money to the Red Cross for hurricane victims, Gutierrez said the school wanted to do something for the local community.“Some of the parents mentioned that they donate blood all the time, and that’s where we got the idea,” Gutierrez said. Students got a close-up look at the blood donation process by manning tables stocked with cookies, chips and juice for the donors, who were required to sit and rest for at least 15 minutes after they donated.“We did this to help the local hospitals,” said Gutierrez’s daughter Jacqueline, an eighthgrader who is co-president of the school’s Associated Student Body.“And we wanted to show kids how to step up and volunteer to help people in the local community.” [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!