IT is no coincidence that Queenstown is situated in the heart of the Eastern Cape. In this town known for being the middle-point of the province, you will also find a dealership with a heart to match.
Jacksons Isuzu Queenstown is as entrenched in the local community, as the surrounding farmland. Other than being around for close to a century and priding itself on top customer service, the dealership supports many local community projects. One of these - which they are fast becoming famous for - is their blood donation drives.
Jacksons Isuzu Queenstown Dealer Principal Patrick Casey said the dealership had been involved in blood drives - hosted on the dealership floor - for several years.
"We have as Jacksons been doing blood drives on the odd occasion for many years. However, it was only a few years ago that it hit home how important blood donation was, when we were faced with some serious challenges around our immediate staff and their families being diagnosed with cancer," said Casey.
Casey said as the staff realised the importance of blood donations, they put renewed effort into the dealership's blood drives. "Blood donation is used for much for than just accident victims, but also for mothers and babies at birth as well as platelets for cancer patients," said Casey.
The staff, their families and friends in the local community now rally around the blood donation drives - which take place three to four times a year - and increase the number of blood donations every year. The record to beat is 108 donations in one year.
"We phone up other businesses in town and challenge them and we get spot prizes, sponsored by the local restaurants, which the blood donors can win. We also make boerewors rolls and offer test drives to the people who donate on the day," said Casey.
Their December Big Bleed is Jacksons major drive, and in 2018 the dealership managed to get a whopping 58 pints off the floor. AlgoaFM has also broadcasted from the dealership for the past two years - which creates a lot of hype and excitement in town.
"We would like to challenge other Isuzu dealers to contact their local blood bank, set up events on their floor and encourage their customers to be involved in this cause. Each time a person donates three times in succession, the blood bank is able to use three parts of our blood and this could save three lives," said Casey.
He has made it his personal mission to create awareness about blood donation and has done talks at the local business chambers on the importance of blood donation.
South African National Blood Service (SANBS) Donor Relations Practitioner Maryke Harris said it was encouraging to see each blood drive at Jacksons getting more momentum.
"Making the vehicle showroom available for SANBS, does create some inconvenience for Jacksons on Blood Drive Day, but the enthusiasm and support from staff members and people from the community, makes it all worth it. Jacksons is always eager to go the extra mile and we appreciate every effort they make," said Harris.
For 2019 so far, 45 units have already been collected at Jacksons with another blood drive scheduled for Wednesday, 12 June 2019 and two more blood drives scheduled at the dealership this year. "We are excited to see Jacksons' blood collections going up to 130 to 150 units per year in the very near future," said Harris.