Primerica employees have given a lot to the American Red Cross over the last two decades.

They’ve given nearly 3,000 pints of blood, actually.

The company and its Primerica Foundation took that support a step further Wednesday when they donated a new Dodge RAM Promaster City Van to the Red Cross. The vehicle was presented to local officials from the nonprofit during a brief ceremony at Primerica’s headquarters in Duluth.

“This was a way we could compliment (the employees’) contributions and their efforts with something that the Primerica Foundation could do — kind of like a tangible representation of our support in addition to the more practical blood drive,” Primerica CEO Glenn Williams said.

“There was a tremendous need at the Red Cross for this so it kind of came together that we wanted to do something a little extra and they had a need and it fit together perfectly.”

The van will be based out of the Red Cross’ collection center in Douglasville. The organization will use it to pick up blood donated at blood drives held around the metro Atlanta area, according to Red Cross spokeswoman Ashley Henyan.

“It’s a life saver,” she said. “We’re thankful to Primerica to be able to put this life-saving vehicle on the road. It’ll be part of a fleet of cars, trucks and vans that transportation blood and blood products to hospitals and volunteers to donation sites.”

Although blood drives are routinely promoted as a way to help others who are in need of blood, they are more beneficial than some people may realize. Henyan said a 1-pint bag of blood can be used to help as many as three people.

And that is why the Red Cross sees the vehicle donated by the Primerica Foundation as being so important to its efforts.

“We’re a national network so we have the unique ability to move blood to where it’s needed the most,” Henyan said. “Local needs are prioritized as far as transporting blood, and then we can send it to where it’s most needed in the country.”

Primerica Foundation Chairwoman Kathryn Kieser said the company runs four blood drives each year for the Red Cross and that talks about donating a van began in the early part of the year.

“We work very closely with them but I think we began talking about it in March,” Kieser said.

And while it is listed as a donation from the Primerica Foundation because it purchased the van, the company’s employees had a key hand in making it happen.

That’s because the employees are heavily involved in raising money for the foundation.

“The foundation is supported through corporate donations, but also through employee donations so the employees also support the foundation financially with their own financial gifts,” Williams said.

Kieser said it was easy to get the Primerica community behind the effort to donate the blood van.

“It’s pretty easy to get people behind the Primerica Foundation because our whole mission is to create more self-sufficient families and clearly health is a part of that,” she said.

Primerica did not just donate a van to the Red Cross on Wednesday, however. It also held a blood drive so employees could drop by on a break and give a pint of blood.

Primerica employee Judy Thomas said she tries to give blood when she can since her blood type is O-negative.

Thomas has given more than five gallons of blood over the years.

“Once I found out I was O-negative and that I was a universal donor and would be constantly needed, it’s something that became of extreme importance to me because I know much (the Red Cross will) need that,” Thomas said as she squeezed a foam bar to keep blood flowing into a bag.

“It just means a lot to me.”

Another Primerica employee, Tiffany Pike, was giving blood at the station next to Thomas. She said she has given blood about four times now.

Pike’s inspiration is her family, who share her A-positive blood type.

“It’s one of those (situations where) if something happens to them, I want to be there for them,” Pike said.

Pike also said she wants to set an example for others to give blood as well.

“Hopefully, if I do it, it motivates my immediate friends to do it because both of my friends are O-negs,” Pike said. “It’s like, ‘If I’m going to do it, you should go do it too.’”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta. I eventually wandered away from home and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Miss., where I first tried my hand at majoring in film for a couple of years. And then political sc