By Jenna Ross

Rather than having a standard teenage party, Austin Le Monte has decided to celebrate his birthday by requesting blood donations from the community.

On Saturday, March 9, Rancho Mission Viejo (RMV) will host its inaugural blood drive. The blood-drive-meets-birthday-celebration will be beach-themed and feature music, food, activities for kids, and a photo booth.

“I decided to start my blood drive, because whenever I go into the hospital, I see many other sick kids who have to stay there much longer than I do, and I just wanted to find a way to help out,” said Le Monte, who will be turning 14.

Because of an immune deficiency, Le Monte has undergone years of treatment at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), including monthly blood infusions and visits with specialists such as pulmonologists, allergists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists and hematologists.

He hopes that by inviting the community to come together for this event, Le Monte will help people overcome their fears of donating blood and raise awareness for children in need, according to a press release from The Ranch.

For anyone unable to donate blood, the Le Monte family is also accepting donations of new books or handmade cards for children receiving in-patient care. For the sake of children with immune deficiencies, donated books should be new.

“I don’t care whether you donate to my blood drive or to another blood drive,” Le Monte said. “Just as long as you donate. All the donations we can get matter.”

The blood drive will take place at 35 Ascenso Ave., Rancho Mission Viejo, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To participate in the drive and donate blood, register at redcrossblood.org.

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