There is a direct connection between dealerships and communities, but it is particularly noticeable during the holiday season when donations are provided for those in need.
Vaughn Wyant, President of the Wyant Group in western Canada, said dealers help year-round, but particularly this time of the year because they don’t feel comfortable with the concept of not sharing their success with other people.
“It’s a way to demonstratively show support for the community when everybody is focused on those who are in need,” said Wyant. “All of my colleagues, whatever brand they represent, are such a big part of their community, especially when they are in a small town. Usually the auto dealers in a small town, and I’ve been in one, are the biggest businesses in town. They are the ones that are most visible, the most noticeable. They do all the different things that bring small communities together.”
He said his group always spends a lot of time on inner-city youths this time of the year and packs Christmas hampers through a Salvation Army initiative called the Secret Santa Project. He also said most of his dealerships have a holiday food drive in their showrooms for those in need.
The Policaro Group, another Ontario-based company with multiple dealerships, has done an annual toy drive for 10 years, filling vehicles with toys and donating them to hospitals. It started with one store and has grown to all eight stores. With the support of customers and employees, the company filled eight full-sized SUVs and one full car full of toys and delivered them to three hospitals.
“It is aligned with our vision for a healthier future for children in our communities,” said Policaro Group President/CEO Francesco Policaro.
The NewRoads Automotive Group is involved in the Ms. Claus campaign, in which money raised by the company’s dealerships is donated to families in need. It is administered by Social Enterprise for Canada.
“The whole idea is we want our staff to feel good, too, giving something to someone in need,” said Newmarket Toyota General Manager Ruby Lui-Lina, whose dealership raised $2,000 through staff, customers and other dealerships in the community.
Lui-Lina has also been involved in a separate initiative called Fill a Purse For a Sister, which is run by a separate non-profit. Used purses are collected from women who no longer need them and are filled with products or gift cards specifically for women and youths in crisis. Lui said more than 100 purses were collected this year from the store and the community.
“It goes into the right place for our local community, people that are living in our backyard,” said Lui-Lina. “Just knowing that women are going to take these purses and use them immediately is great.”