The race is on as University of Utah students battle their peers at Utah State University to see who can collect the most blood during the first week of school.

"We want this to be the year that we break the infamous winning streak of USU by donating another record amount of blood," said Stanley Lloyd, community service director of the associated student association at the U. Last year, the two schools were able to give more than 2,300 units of blood to local blood banks.

For the seventh year, the two public research institutions are engaging students during welcome week activities, asking for blood donations, some out of the good of their hearts and others in order to earn the bragging rights. USU has won the past five, and the U. is looking to regain the title.

"A spirit of competition in everything never hurts," said USU's director of student involvement, Tiffany Evans. She said during the last few hours of blood collection on the Logan campus "there is a two-and-a-half-hour wait."

"The student leaders said the Red Cross isn't going home until every last person who wants to donate has given blood," Evans said.

USU finished on Friday with a goal of collecting more than 1,700 units — one Evans hopes they exceed — while the U. began poking veins Friday and will end with a football game between the two school teams on Thursday, Sept. 3.

"This is the perfect way to get students acquainted with the community service side of the U. by allowing them to participate in an activity that has a huge impact on our community," Lloyd said. "The blood donated is greatly needed and appreciated by our local hospitals, and U. students enjoy being a part of fulfilling that need."

ARUP Laboratories has been assisting the U. in collection efforts, using its Bloodmobile, parked outside the bookstore on campus. Other locations at U. include the A. Ray Olpin Union Ballroom, Crimson View in the Union, and the LDS Institute. Directions and times can be found online at www.utahblood.org.

Donors should bring photo ID and plan to spend around 35 minutes to complete the paperwork, the mini-physical and give blood. Those who are unable to reach campus may donate at ARUP Blood Services in Murray or at Research Park and must indicate that the donation is for the "Bleed Red" week.

Evans said a typical person could expect to give one unit of blood.

All donations made at the U. will go to University Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Hospital, Primary Children's Medical Center or Shriners Hospital for Children. Of the 48 hospitals in Utah, the four university-centric hospitals use around 25 percent of the blood transfused in the state.

e-mail: wleonard@desnews.com