Auto dealers stepping up for United Way

Ford and Kia dealers donating $500 from each vehicle sold in August

Two city auto dealerships are teaming up to make a difference in the South Okanagan communities they serve.

Until the end of September, Skaha Ford and Penticton Kia are running programs in support of the United Way and the Penticton Food Bank.

“We’ve all needed a little help at certain times in our lives and the United Way does such good work,” said Jeff Gilbert, director of sales for the two businesses. “It helps the community and it’s the community that keeps us going. We’re in business because of the people here and we want to make sure we do our part to help out.”

Gilbert ran similar fundraisers during his time working at a Kelowna auto dealer, generating between $7,500 and $10,000 each year.

For the United Way, the Penticton companies are donating $50 from the sale of each vehicle.

The program began Aug. 1 at Skaha Ford and kicks in Sept. 1 at Penticton Kia.

“I think everybody likes to be able to help a little bit, it’s a feel-good thing,” said the sales director. “We don’t push it hard, we’re going to do it whether the customer wants to do it or not, it’s just an important thing.

“It’s not about going out there and attracting customers to come here because we’re going to donate $50, we’re doing it because it’s good for the community and it’s the right thing to do.”

Gilbert added he would be happy to raise between $5,000 and $6,000 this first time around. The money will be presented at the second annual Penticton Lakeside Drive Thru Breakfast for United Way on Oct. 17.

Not surprisingly, someone else who was happy with news of the fundraising plans is Marla O’Brien, Executive Director of the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan Similkameen.

“This is just fabulous and we’re just so glad that companies like Skaha Ford and Penticton Kia are on board,” she said. “Last year in Penticton the drive through raised $8,000 and they (dealerships) could help potentially double that, which would be fabulous.”

O’Brien added there is also the potential with these events to spark challenges among other businesses.

“I think a lot of companies are realizing there are some benefits of having some proceeds go back into helping those who live and work there,” she said. “Many of the community organizations that we support in the south Okanagan are able to do so much with so very little, they can stretch every lit bit so far.

“This will definitely go a long way to help.”