Muscatine High School students spent time in between class giving back to the community Friday.

They’re doing it by rolling up their sleeves to give blood.

The school’s Key Club hosts blood drives throughout the year, but this one’s different.

The students are doing it in honor of Micaela Brunson.

They lost their classmate to suicide in November 2016 at the age of 16.

Micaela’s family is partnering with the Muscatine High School Key Club and Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center as a way to spread love to as many people as they can reach.

For the family, it’s part of the grieving process and to remember who Micaela was to so many people.

Micaela’s Mother Alma Brunson said, “The Muscatine students rallied together and they’ve been incredibly supportive.”

They’ve rallied together again as Micaela Brunson’s family worked to give back to the community helping them through a heavy loss. 

Micaela’s Father Brian Brunson said, “The grieving process is a strange pathway and none of us are really prepared for it.”

Micaela’s family and friends came together to celebrate what would be her 18th birthday this upcoming Tuesday and honor her memory by supporting the gift of life for others.

Her mother, Alma Brunson, started the ball rolling by reaching out to the Key Club on the idea of using a blood drive to honor Micaela, which started earlier in the week. 

She says a blood drive in her memory was the best gift to remember Micaela who regularly donated blood and her hair to locks of love. 
And after her passing was an organ and tissue donor. 

Alma Brunson said, “The legacy of love that Micaela has left here will go on for years and years and years. The donations of blood will help hundreds of people.”

The drive, which came to the high school Friday also helps to continue teaching a lesson Micaela taught others. 

Key Club Adviser Jen Keltner said, “Students here at Muscatine, to give back to their community, and I really think it’s special for them to do it. Yeah, for Micaela, they see someone that wasn’t on Earth very long but got to make a difference and they want to make a difference also.”

It’s a difference Micaela is remembered for because of the small things. 

Micaela’s friend and senior Callie Kurriger said, “Little acts of kindness.”

It is kindness her family and friends say was there to help everyone when facing those hard days.

Kurriger said, “A lot of these pictures if you look at them, they really show how much she was involved in people’s lives and how much she really took that big step to make people smile.”

A smile her family uses to also extend hope and help by sharing Micaela’s story to prevent another loss from suicide.

Alma Brunson said, “Before we lost our daughter, my idea of somebody that was depressed was not somebody that was like my daughter, so if we reach out, touch people, make them realize… this touches everyone.”

Alma Brunson says she hopes to do more in the future to help raise awareness for mental health and anxiety when further along in the grieving process.

While the event at the school wrapped up Friday, the Muscatine Blood Center is keeping the drive going through Feb. 20, which would be Micaela’s birthday.

The center is by appointment and people can contact them at (563) 264-2967.