Desert Sun Toyota

New Mexico Dealership Partners with Military Service Members for Community Service Projects
by Kristen Orsborn
Sept/Oct 2018
Desert Sun Toyota
Turning Dirt
Volunteers with The Big Give Project in Alamogordo, New Mexico, hard at work on a landscaping project. Desert Sun Toyota created the contest 11 years ago.
For the 11th year in a row, employees at Desert Sun Toyota teamed up with military servicemen and women this summer to donate thousands of hours of community service work.

The Big Give Project is a partnership between the Alamogordo, New Mexico, dealership and the nearby Holloman Air Force Base. Since the project’s inception, organizers say volunteers have logged more than 150,000 hours of work, saving the community well over $2 million dollars.

“Desert Sun has always been really involved in the community,” says Robert Martinez, dealer principal. “How can you invest $100,000 and get back over $2 million in return? As far as the city goes, it’s the best return on investment we can give. This is, by far, the best bang for the buck.”

Desert Sun employees came up with the idea for The Big Give Project after seeing something similar on Oprah. The talk show host sponsored a contest where teams of volunteers competed to create the best community service project, with thousands of dollars in prize money awarded to the winners.

“We saw what a remarkable impact those teams had on their communities, and realized we could do something similar on a local level,” says Brandon Burling, sales director. “We wanted to challenge people in Alamogordo to do big things. And they have.”

Teams pick their own projects, and typically have about a month to get the work done. Once they’re finished, teams present their work to a judging panel. The winners get $10,000 in prize money.

“It’s so hard to pick a winner, because really, they’re all winners,” says Burling. “These people work all day, go home, put on their Big Give shirts, then work all night. It’s so nice to see them give back to Alamogordo on their own time. And all of us at Desert Sun are so proud to play a part.”
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