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Dealerships’ car giveaway program helps United Way

SALISBURY — For 12 years, auto dealerships in Salisbury have stepped forward in a big way to help the Rowan County United Way’s annual fall fund-raising drive.

The dealerships’ new-car giveaway has increased giving, especially by those who never participated before, according to Aaron Church and Lane Bailey, co-chairmen of this year’s campaign.

United Way officials estimate that the car giveaway is valued at a total of $184,000 for the 12 years. In addition, the dealerships run great campaigns, which means that their dedication to the United Way goes beyond the car giveaway, officials said.

Participating are Ben Mynatt Nissan, Team Automotive Group, Gerry Wood Auto Group, and Clonginer Ford.

Initially, Tim Russell, former county manager, put the program in place for the United Way, making the initial ask of the dealerships.

United Way officials say the car giveaway is a great incentive to give, as anyone can be the winner.

Each person who donates $52 or more and designates his donation to the Rowan County United Way or a United Way agency is eligible for the car giveaway. The names go into a barrel and three names are drawn at each of the four report meeting for a total of 12 finalists.

The winner is drawn at the campaign finale in November. The dealership that will provide the car is drawn from among the four. The other 11 finalists receive prizes also.

The car dealerships promote the program.

“We believe our community and their families are ‘our Guests and our Family,’ and the blessing is in the service to others,” said Kristin Dillard, dealer principal with Team Auto Group. “The Team Automotive Group family of associates proudly support The United Way in their continued efforts to serve.”

Todd Rakes, executive manager at Ben Mynatt Nissan, said that the car giveaway is “a great way to get better engagement from the community and has allowed the United Way to reach more people to tell their story and the agencies they support.”

Ben Mynatt Nissan has been the dealer selected to provide the winner’s car a few times, which has been a pleasure, Rakes said.

“Ben Mynatt Nissan is glad to be able to provide a small part to the program but the true people who make the big difference are all the wonderful volunteers that manage the campaigns that give selflessly to the United Way each year and to the dedicated staff that work at the agency,” Rakes said.

Mike Stewart of Cloninger Ford said that his company feels strongly about the car giveaway. “It’s a draw for the campaign in general,” he said. “There is always the chance that anybody who gives $52 a year to the United Way can win a car. It is almost like winning the lottery.

“All of the dealerships are giving back to the community and Rowan County is a trendsetter,” he said. “I don’t know of any other United Way campaigns that do this.”

This year’s campaign theme is “Better Together. Giving. Working. Growing,” with campaign leaders emphasizing the spirit of working together to achieve a healthier community.

The campaign, which kicked off Sept. 6, is nearly halfway to its $1.47 million goal, volunteers learned at Wednesday’s first report meeting, held at Ben Mynatt Nissan. Some $703,000 has been raised.

Upcoming events include Second Report, Oct. 25, noon, Team Chevrolet; Belk Charity Event, Oct. 29, 6-9 p.m.; Third Report, Nov. 8, noon, Cloninger Ford; and the finale, Nov. 15, noon, Salisbury YMCA.

The Rowan County United Way was chartered in 1956. Agencies that receive annual funding include the Rowan County Literacy Council, The Arc/Rowan, Rowan Vocational Opportunities, Boy Scouts, Central NC Council; Communities in Schools of Rowan County, Rowan County YMCA, Rowan County Youth Services Bureau, American Red Cross, Rowan County Rescue Squad, The Salvation Army, Trinity Living Center, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, Meals on Wheels, Families First, Inc., Family Crisis Council and Smart Start Rowan.

Partner agencies are Capstone Recovery Center and Jobs for Life. A “partner” agency means that donors can designate to these two non-profits for their giving.

For more information, visit the website, www.rowanunitedway.org, or follow the United Way on Facebook.

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