ALBANY -- Auburn University and University of Georgia fans and alumni are gearing up for a blood feud this week as they compete for the most blood donors in an annual competition that benefits the American Red Cross Donor Center on Dawson Road.
The annual blood drive pits Auburn and UGA fans and alumni against each other during a week-long blood drive that coincides with the Auburn/Georgia game, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Hank Jester, president of the Auburn Club of Southwest Georgia, said he was excited to participate in this year's event.
"Last year was my first time participating," he said. "It's an easy way to help and it makes use of our friendly rivalry (with UGA)."
Jester said this year the game is on for the Tigers, who were beaten by Georgia fans last year in the blood drive.
"We hope to get the word out and inspire Auburn fans to come out and donate blood," he said.
Jester said he knows first-hand the importance of donating blood for those in need.
"I had a grandfather with leukemia so it is very important (to donate blood) to me from a family standpoint," he said.
Dee Matthews, president of the Albany Bulldog Club, said she hopes to repeat the blood drive win from last year.
"We want to help people in need and so many people don't think about the importance of giving blood," she said. "We (Auburn and Georgia) are one of the oldest rivalries in the South, so any time you have the chance to help someone and put us in competition with each other is a fun time."
Lena Thompson, collections supervisor for the Albany Donor Center, said the blood drive for Auburn and Georgia fans has been held for more than a decade.
"We have been doing this for years," she said. "We want everyone to come out and support their teams and give the gift of life by donating blood."
Matthews said anyone who participates in the Auburn/Georgia blood drive will receive a commemorative T-shirt that was donated by Vansant and Corriere law office.
"Auburn and Georgia have also donated footballs that have been autographed by the coaches of each school," she said.
Matthews said each donor will have the chance to enter a drawing to win the autographed football from their respective team.
Thompson said anyone can donate on behalf of Auburn or Georgia by making an appointment at the donor center to give blood.
"We have a specific need for O type donors right now," she said. "With the holiday season coming up, O type blood is very important to have because of emergency situations."
Thompson said O negative blood is a universal blood type that can be transfused to a person with any other blood type. She said hospitals rely heavily on O negative blood in emergency situations because there is often not enough time to determine a patient's specific blood type.
A total of 112 blood units were donated last year during the blood drive and Thompson said she is hoping that the number will increase this year.
"We have had a few people calling us asking when they can donate," she said. "We hope that number will grow."
Thompson said that individuals wishing to donate blood should call the American Red Cross Donor Center at 1 (800) 448-3543 at any time to schedule an appointment.
The donor center's hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.