A marathon blood drive will begin at noon today at Cinemagic Stadium Theater in Westbrook.

Organizers are thinking big at a time of year when blood donations tend to slow down. The event aims to collect more than 500 pints — more than 10 times the amount collected at the average Maine blood drive — by the time it ends at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Summer poses challenges for blood collection. People are gone on vacation, out of the workplace, off campus or otherwise away from the places where they might ordinarily give blood. Extreme hot weather can also make people postpone their giving.

“Having a blood drive run for 27 hours, we hope, gives more people more opportunity to come out,” said Ellen Russell, director of Maine operations for American Red Cross Blood Services.

New England had a significant decrease in donations at the beginning of July, and inventory fell to the lowest levels in a decade, Russell said.

“We really need people to come out and donate,” she said. “There’s been a blood shortage across the country. This will help make sure the supply is replenished.”

The Red Cross has found a great partner in Cinemagic, Russell said.

The company gives passes to any of its theaters to blood donors at the marathon event, which will be held at the Westbrook theater for the sixth year.

In past years, the event has drawn 500 to 600 people. Each donation is about a pint of blood.

Screening stations and a large-screen TV playing movies will be set up in the theater lobby. The blood will be drawn in four buses, three of which are coming from elsewhere in New England for the event.

In addition to the movie passes, donors will receive commemorative T-shirts with a vampire and the phrase “Got Blood?”

Bob Collins, director of marketing for Zyacorp Cos., the theater’s owner, said blood drives are held at all of the company’s theaters at least three times a year. The company has three theaters in Maine, two in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts.

“We want to be part of a community,” he said, “not just someone who does business there.”

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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