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'Twilight' blood drive set for movie premiere ; Collection planned tonight at Galleria

Edward wants you to donate blood tonight.

Yes, that Edward. He doesn't want it for himself, though. Edward knows that some people have an even more desperate need for blood than vampires do. And he -- through Upstate New York Transplant Services -- wants teens to get involved.

UNYTS will hold a "Twilight"-themed blood drive from 8 p.m. to midnight today in the Walden Galleria Mall, next to Urban Outfitters. The agency planned the drive around the midnight movie premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," the third installment in Stephenie Meyer's phenomenally popular vampire series.

The idea is to lure fans of the series, and other mall patrons, to donate blood while waiting to see the film. For those who might fear losing their place in line, UNYTS volunteers will hold their place while they are gone.

Thea Tio, UNYTS spokeswoman, said the inspiration for the drive came from other agencies around the nation. "Other community blood banks have had blood drives in conjunction with 'Twilight' premieres, and they've all been extremely successful," she said.

Donors will receive a free "Eclipse" movie poster, and the first 50 will also take home an "Eclipse" blood-drive T-shirt. In addition, a "Twilight" look-a-like contest will be held, and winners will receive mall gift certificates.

In Niagara Falls, a similar blood drive today has inspired a competition among high school students. The UNYTS drive will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Education Center, 60 Kies Court.

Niagara Falls High School librarian Barbara Rodgers encouraged many of her students to get involved. Rodgers, who has invested time in the school's Donate Life club, is a passionate supporter of UNYTS because her father was an organ donor. She is also a "Twilight" fanatic, according to senior and club member Rob Bennett.

"It's our duty to inform the student body of organ and tissue donation," Bennett said of the club. "[This drive] allows students to connect with what we're doing through the movies and characters they love."

The students decided to challenge their peers at Niagara Catholic, Grand Island and Niagara Wheatfield high schools in an attempt to donate a total of 500 units of blood.

Donors at the Falls blood drive will have a chance to win tickets to the Niagara Falls Regal's screening of past "Twilight" movies and the premiere of "Eclipse" as well as VIP passes to "jump the line."

Bennett said the drive has been an enthusiastic outgrowth of the original Galleria project. "It just took a life of its own," he said.

e-mail: aeck@buffnews.com

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