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LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is putting on a friendly competition between Auburn and Opelika on Friday to help meet a critical need — restocking the blood supply, which has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as fewer blood drives were held in the community. 

"I think now more than ever there's a strong need for blood donations," said Jessica Kohn, downtown coordinator for the Downtown Merchants Association. 

The LifeSouth bus will be parked across from Mellow Mushroom in downtown Auburn from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday. Another bus will be taking donations outside of City Hall in Opelika during the same time frame.

"Auburn is out biggest city, but our drives in Auburn are always the worst," said Carmilla Tindal, donor recruiter for LifeSouth's East Region, which includes smaller cities in the area, like Tuskegee. 

LifeSouth says it is in need of donors of all blood types, and is in critical need of Type O and B donors, according to a news release. 

"We are so grateful to our donors who came in to donate as our community was first impacted by Covid-19, and we ask blood donors and those who have not given before to continue to help," said Brite Whitaker, director of outreach for LifeSouth. "We want to make sure the blood is on the shelves when our local patients need it most."

Those who wish to donate blood can find Friday's events and sign up for a time slot at www.lifesouth.org.

In addition to feeling good about helping fill a critical need in the community, donors will also get the benefit of having their blood tested for Covid-19 antibodies, which may indicate that a person has been exposed to the coronavirus at some point. The test does not indicate if someone currently has the virus. 

"Right now, if you want to get that testing I think it's $75," said Kohn. "This will be a way for you to give back and maybe save some money if you were looking to get that antibody test done."

Donors will be notified by email in three to five days of the results, said Tindal, who added that they could also log in to donor portal for results.

The Downtown Merchants Association will also be giving donors a $10 gift card to a downtown business and entering them into a raffle for a gift basket. 

"I know there will be some businesses who will also give a special or a discount if you have on your I Donated Blood sticker," said Kohn. 

Donors must be 16 years old or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and show a photo ID. A tent will be set up outside of the bus and social distancing will be enforced. 

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