As part of a new initiative called McGee Supports the Troops, the Hanover, Mass., dealership set a goal to gather and ship 200 boxes of these comfort supplies to active servicemen and women.
McGee Toyota easily surpassed that goal as donations of baby wipes, candy, beef jerky, chips, books, hand sanitizer and other supplies poured into the dealership.
“Everybody knows somebody serving or who has served overseas,” says Toni DeFrancisco, McGee Toyota’s community relations manager. “People were so passionate about it.”
McGee partnered with the Heartillery Group, a local nonprofit dedicated to showing support to troops overseas, and Triplicity Event Group to help promote the Veteran’s Day event.
In addition to the community donations, McGee team members donated $3,000 for supplies, and volunteered with their families to shop, assemble and pack the boxes.
On the day of the packing party, vehicles were moved to one side of the showroom, which was transformed into a giant assembly line. Items were sorted by category and about 75 volunteers worked for three hours to pack boxes to the brim for 300 soldiers.
Children designed handmade cards and others wrote personal notes to the soldiers, who are serving as close as Alaska and as far away as the Middle East and Africa.
“It was eye opening to learn there are a lot of soldiers that have families who regularly send to them, and then there are those that don’t receive anything,” DeFrancisco says. “We want to show them we care and are thankful for their service.”
Donations continued to arrive during the packing party, and volunteers made several extra runs to find more boxes. Care packages were loaded onto a Tacoma on the dealership floor, and by the end of the day the truck was overflowing.
“This event was made successful by our amazing community, the tremendous effort of all my teammates and, of course, the big heart of the McGee family,” she says.
McGee Toyota was encouraged by the widespread community response for its first event and plans to “make it bigger and better next year and every year,” DeFrancisco says.
“It's important for our troops overseas to know that they are supported day in and day out from their communities,” says Dealer Principal Rob McGee. “This is one small gesture to show them that they matter to us, and that their sacrifice is not ever forgotten."