DARCARS Toyota of Frederick
“No child should go hungry,” Waltrup says. “Once I realized the enormity of the problem here, it was a no-brainer. We needed to do something.”
The Frederick, Maryland, dealership turned to Blessings in a Backpack (BIAB). The all-volunteer nonprofit provides nutritious food on weekends and during school breaks for children who might otherwise go hungry. Retired school teacher Hermine Bernstein created the Frederick chapter in 2014 after reading about BIAB in People magazine.
"I learned 10,000 kids were at risk, just in the county," Bernstein says. "So I just knew this was something I had to do."
Bernstein's BIAB chapter has grown into one of the largest in the nation. Volunteers pack about 2,600 bags each week for 19 schools. And much of it is thanks to the time and talent of friends like DARCARS.
"We started with a small donation and a few associates packing bags at local schools. But we wanted to find other ways to help," says Waltrup.
At a sales event in October 2016, the store donated $50 per new car sold. The final tally was a donation of more than $12,000. And, when Waltrup learned that BIAB volunteers struggled logistically, his team put the pedal to the metal. Using their Tundras and Siennas, colleagues began picking up and delivering food every other Monday from Sam's Club to the four most at-risk schools.
“All of the elementary schools know us by name. For us, it’s a truly amazing experience,” says Waltrup.
To date, the dealership has donated more than $41,000 and 100 volunteer hours. It’s also the premiere sponsor for the annual Frederick Summer Solstice 8K, benefiting BIAB. And as Waltrup promises, the bimonthly delivery runs will continue.
"We simply couldn’t do it without them," says Bernstein. "Jason writes pretty big checks, but they put in sweat equity as well. And when you really commit like that, it’s something else entirely. It’s extraordinary.”
To learn more about Blessings in a Backpack, check out biabfrederickmd.org.