Dealer Doings - A Secret Weapon for Secret Families

by Dan Nied
Mar/Apr 2015
Dealer Doings - A Secret Weapon for Secret Families
On the first Saturday of every December, Jeff Daniels arrives at Toyota of Muncie at 5 a.m.

Family Gathering -- Families of all ages, including this young couple and their newborn, help wrap gift for Secret Families at Toyota of Muncie.

He turns on the lights, takes a deep breath and looks over the showroom floor at the rows of tables adorned with wrapping paper, scissors and tape.

This is his ritual on one of his favorite days of the year.

“I’m the first person to get here. Probably a half hour before I need to be,” says Daniels, Toyota of Muncie’s general manager. “But there’s something personal to me to stand in the showroom with the lights on looking at the wrapping tables. To know what’s about to happen, it means a lot to me.”

What’s about to happen? Well, Toyota of Muncie is about to become the biggest gift-wrapping station in Indiana for a day. About 700 people will move in and out of its doors, either wrapping presents bought from the department store next door, or loading them into donated Siennas for delivery to local families.

It’s a part of Secret Families, a Muncie County charity that Daniels and Toyota of Muncie are proud to support each year. Secret Families and its volunteers help needy families of school-aged children each year. Each family receives presents and a holiday meal. In 2004, its first year, Secret Families helped two families. In 2014 the organization helped 330 families. The cost for each family is about $550.

“It’s been such a benefit for us to be involved,” Daniels says. “A lot of people ask if it’s good for business, but my response is ‘I don’t care.’ I almost don’t care if we sell a car that day because it does so much good for the community. It brings a lot of warmth to our store.”
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