Volunteers versus Gators.

A classic football rivalry, UT and the University of Florida will compete on and off the field this year.

Beginning Monday and concluding the following Friday, MEDIC Regional Blood Center, a nonprofit organization, will be collecting blood donations from UT students, staff and community members at the UC, suites 223-225 each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Donations will also be taken at the UT Institute of Agriculture on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m., and the lobbies of Hess Hall Tuesday and South Carrick Hall Wednesday from 12 to 8 p.m.

Christi Fightmaster, director of public relations at MEDIC, stated that the goal for the drive is a total of 3,500 pints of blood. While only one team will walk away victorious, Fightmaster believed the real champions will be the donation recipients.

"The patients waiting on life-saving blood transfusions in our area hospitals are the big winners," Fightmaster said. "This event will help us stock our shelves so that we can better supply our hospitals with blood and blood products."

Beyond vying for bragging rights, Fightmaster emphasized the importance of donating blood to organizations like MEDIC.

"There is no synthetic replacement for blood, so when patients need a life-saving transfusion it must come from people who are willing to roll up their sleeve," she said. "Donating a pint of blood is a tremendous gift to the community and a way to ensure the safety and well-being of others. It goes to accident victims, moms who have complications during childbirth, cancer patients, burn victims, people who develop blood disorders such as aplastic anemia and the list goes on and on. You never know when you or a loved one will need blood, and it's the blood on the shelf that saves lives during emergency situations."

Mike Prowell, the director of business development at MEDIC, said that MEDIC provides blood for 28 hospitals in East Tennessee. By giving blood, donors stockpile necessary materials for local hospitals.

"We've been collecting blood in East Tennessee since 1958," Prowell said. "If you want to save a life and do something good for the community, giving blood is one way you could do that."

All donors must have positive identification, as well as meet age and weight guidelines. For more information on donor eligibility, please click here.