Dealerships perform acts of kindness during COVID-19 crisis

Volkswagen of Bismarck in North Dakota team members prepare gift bags for frontline heroes in their community.

From organizing senior meal deliveries to leading donation drives, Volkswagen dealerships across the country are doing their part to help find new and inventive ways to support their neighbors during these difficult times. Below are three examples of dealerships driving something bigger in their local communities.

To show their appreciation to essential workers, Auburn Volkswagen in Washington decided to come up with multiple plans to help address the growing need in their community. “My wife and I really believe the purpose of having a business is to take care of our community and drive something bigger than ourselves,” says owner Matthew Welch.

Their recent efforts include buying lunch from a local restaurant for the entire Auburn police department, providing support to organizations delivering resources to families in need, and gifting 10-gallon gas vouchers to healthcare workers. “We were looking for the most beneficial ways to give back and thank our community,’” says Welch.

He says the response from the community has been immediate and overwhelming. More than a hundred hospital workers have poured in – some driving over an hour away – to stop by the dealership to claim the free voucher. Welch plans to expand his charitable efforts to the Auburn fire department in the coming days.

In Florida, Rick Case Automotive Group similarly felt compelled to action amid COVID-19. “We strongly feel that this [organization] is one to donate to, because it is getting out there, getting food to the people right now at the time it is needed the most,” Raquel Case said.

The charitable group plans to use the funds to distribute 350,000 meals to families impacted by the pandemic. “They’re a huge pillar of this community, and we appreciate everything they’re doing,” said Paco Velez, Feeding South Florida’s president and CEO.

Over in North Dakota, Volkswagen of Bismarck has raised more than $30,000 since March towards COVID-19 relief efforts in its community. The team has purchased gift cards in $500 chunks at locally owned businesses and donated them in $50 increments to local hospital workers, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical staff.

“We call them our frontline heroes,” says Volkswagen of Bismarck brand marketing manager Jenna Adam.

Volkswagen of Bismarck in North Dakota donated $30,000 to their local hospital workers, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical staff. Gift cards were placed in colorful gift bags.

In addition to gift cards, the dealership has provided complimentary rental vehicles to local restaurants to use for delivery services. “A little effort can go such a long way for these small businesses,” said Adam. “Our community has always been there for us and we wanted to show we are here for them, always.”

At Tom’s River Volkswagen in New Jersey, owner Tom McMenamin received a tip from one of his employees that senior citizens were struggling with a lack of access to essential goods. He and his team developed a daily delivery service for four local retirement communities. Manned by three dedicated attendants six hours a day, the service has already helped more than 200 families.

“No matter what the situation is – bad or good – there’s always some light that can come from it,” says McMenamin. “Many of the individuals we’ve helped have loved ones that live far away and are not able to provide them with the help they need, which includes access to life-saving medicines.”

Vic Bailey Volkswagen in Spartanburg, S.C., has donated more than 500 pounds of non-perishable food items to a local disaster relief program after hearing food banks and pantries across the country were suffering from a disruption in food donations and volunteers.

The dealership launched the drive in early April and challenged their community to fill the cargo area of an Atlas with items to help support the most vulnerable members of their community affected by the pandemic.

“I honestly didn’t check [the trunk] for several days because I was nervous that people wouldn’t participate,” said Vic Bailey Volkswagen general manager Hal Foster. “But when I walked past the trunk, I was shocked. It was already filled with items.”

Vic Bailey Volkswagen collected and donated more than 500 pounds of non-perishable food items to a local disaster relief program.

Within days, the dealership had to put the third row down to allow for more room. Soon after, the second had to come down. “I think there’s a lot of value in times like these … when we, as a community, focus our attention on others rather than ourselves,” Foster says.

While the drive will continue to run through April, the team has already collected triple the amount of food items they typically raise around Thanksgiving.

“Volkswagen is interested in doing more than selling cars to people,” said Foster. “Volkswagen is interested in partnering with people and doing life together, which in turn gives us the drive to do something bigger every day for our community.”

“Drive Bigger is not just a slogan,” he added. “It’s a call to action – and we are showing up.”