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Vampire-themed blood drive draws crowds

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

A line, stretching some 100 feet inro the parking lot of the Great Escape McDonough 16 Theater, Tuesday, included children, teenagers, and adults.

They were a different group of moviegoers. Three blood-curdling vampire movies were showing: "Twilight," "New Moon," and "Eclipse," but the featured attraction was a blood drive hosted by LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, Inc.

"We've never done anything like this before," said Marcus Hackett, general manager of the theater on Foster Drive. "It ties into the movies real well, and the clientele, they like the whole setup ... Then you get a shirt."

Hackett beamed over the strong turnout. He said the blood drive, offering donors an opportunity to see their favorite movie, was a first for the McDonough theater.

"['Eclipse,'] is the greatest midnight show we've had here," said Hackett. "Between blood donors and others patrons, it sold out early."

Jil Osborne, donor consultant for LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, said LifeSouth organized the event for prospective donors. "We partnered with the theater to host a blood drive that is going to be fun for moviegoers and fans of the extremely popular films," said Osborne.

"As a community blood center, we enjoy opportunities where we can involve the community in a fun event that results in saving lives," she said. "We hope that donors will enjoy the humor associated with the vampire film releases, and a blood drive.

"We would like to draw 30 units [of blood] from this drive," Osborne said. "There is always a need for blood donations, and in the summer, this need becomes much worse, due to increased travel and schools being out for the summer. The need for blood products increases, and the supply decreases," she added.

The blood drive began at 6 p.m., and continued through the night. The line of donors made their way to two white bloodmobiles, filled out permission slips, sat on several couches, donated blood, left and made their way into seeing one of the three vampire movies. The movie showings were at 6 p.m., 9:35 p.m., and midnight.

The LifeSouth bloodmobiles were in the parking lot bearing the names "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob." Edward and Jacob are two of the main characters in the movies, as the male heartthrobs over whom the females compete, explained Renee Wright, community development coordinator for LifeSouth. Edward is a vampire, said Wright, and Jacob is a werewolf.

"That's why we have the competing blood teams," added Wright. "It's because, if you're hot for the werewolf, you go on Team Jacob. If you're hot for the vampire, you go on Team Edward." Wright said the event served its purpose of creating community awareness of LifeSouth and the work it does. "It's very much a success," she said.

Eleven-year-old Callie Lemming, of Stockbridge, was waiting in the blood donor line with her mother, Linda Lemming. Callie said combining a movie with a blood drive "is creative. It's definitely different. I wouldn't expect it," she said. "A movie and a blood drive, it's a little weird."

Kristen Beach and Courtney Cullen, both of McDonough, were aware of the movie and blood drive, and endorsed the concept. "I think it's great. I haven't given blood in a little bit, so it was time," Beach said. "I think it's a great opportunity, it's a good way to get a lot of people."

Cullen said she has been to the theater before, but Tuesday was the first time she gave blood before sitting down to watch a film. "It's convenient, and you get entertainment afterwards," she said.