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Dealers Give Back to Communities Through Back-to-School Initiatives

Published August 29, 2022


Rob Treadway

Robert Treadway

Membership Communications & Marketing Manager

As students head back to school this fall, auto dealers around the country are springing into action to make sure underprivileged children have the tools they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Below are just a few of the ways franchised new-car dealers are giving back to their local communities.

Backpack Giveaways

Madera Ford in Madera, Calif., held its third annual backpack giveaway aiming to ease the financial burdens on families one backpack at a time.

Mitchell Riegelhuth, Madera Ford fleet manager, understands the sacrifices some families have to make this time of year. “I was raised by a single mother, so I know how she struggled to raise me and my brother,” he says. “I have a platform to help.” And help is exactly what the dealership did. A total of 400 backpacks were given away. Each bag was filled with supplies, including crayons, highlighters, pens and a pair of headphones. Madera Ford partnered with Sierra Valley Almonds to make the event a success. Altogether, the dealership spent $6,500 on backpacks and supplies.

Down in Bossier City, La., Holmes Honda is helping to make sure students are heading back to school prepared. The dealership gave away 150 backpacks filled with school supplies.

And hundreds of children in south Texas will be better prepared for the start of the new school year thanks to Ancira Auto Group, which collected and donated more than 500 backpacks to a local nonprofit The backpacks will help children in 14 counties get organized for the school year and be one less thing for their parents to worry about having to buy.

"I just bought school supplies for my two kids and spent $450,” says April Ancira, dealership vice president. “To help edge some of those costs, it is our pleasure to help."

Financial Aid

Thanks to a $3,000 donation by Buckhannon Toyota, 900 students in Upshur County, W.Va., will receive backpacks filled with homework supplies and hygiene items through the local charitable organization The Parish House.

In Zanesville, Ohio, McHugh Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat celebrated its decade-long partnership with Eastside Community Ministry by donating $5,500 for Eastside’s Tools for School campaign, which typically serves more than 1,000 students each year.

Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies, as their annual supply budgets simply don’t cover all necessities. For the second year, Haddad Dealerships in Pittsfield, Mass., donated $500 to eight teachers nominated by the public to help pay for their Amazon Classroom Wish Lists.

In Schenectady, N.Y., Kicks For Kids is a summer-long initiative launched by Mohawk Honda, DeCrescente Distributing Company and Victory Church to collect new, name-brand sneakers and hoodies for local youth in need. The partnership went on a shopping spree that will benefit some 150 local families.

Donation Drives

Many dealership showrooms serve as drop-off locations for school supply donation drives.

Pohanka Automotive Group locations across the mid-Atlantic region accepted donations of school supplies to assist classrooms in Wicomico County, Md.

Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet, Columbus, Ohio, teamed up with local radio station QFM96 for a donation drive benefiting the Driven Foundation’s Back to School Giveback program. Radio listeners filled 10 large bins at Wahlberg showrooms, enough to help 400 central Ohio families.

And finally, Findlay Subaru, St. George, Utah, partnered with the Washington County School District Foundation to “Fill the Bus.” A yellow school bus was parked in front of the dealership six days a week for a month with the goal of filling it to the brim with donations of essential items.

“There’s a giant need in southern Utah,” says Findlay Subaru General Manager Curtis Whitehead. More than 40% of county students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches, meaning their households are at or below poverty income levels.

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