Mike Shaw Toyota
“This thing was a real zinger for us,” says Shaw, owner of Mike Shaw Toyota in Corpus Christi, Texas. “My philosophy in business is to always give back. But this turned out to be the biggest thing we’ve ever done.”
The 71-year-old Shaw, a veteran of the Vietnam War, came up with the idea to do “Turkeys for Troops” in the run up to Thanksgiving to show his support for members of the military who call the surrounding Gulf Coast communities home. Many were impacted by Harvey. The dealership’s marketing agency took it from there, partnering with Wal-Mart — which delivered the turkeys to the dealership in a freezer truck — and with KRIS-TV — which helped spread the word and provided live coverage the day of the event.
Cars started showing up at 6:30 a.m. and continued nonstop until 4:30 p.m., at one point backing up for four miles. Shaw personally greeted each family, shook their hands and helped load the turkeys into their vehicles until 8 p.m.
“We bought 1,000 turkeys to start, but ended up giving away 2,200,” says Shaw. “We received so many nice letters. Their underlying message: ‘Thanks for remembering us.’ That’s especially true of the Vietnam vets, many of whom have felt forgotten.”
Shaw repeated the process in December for residents of nearby Rockport and Aransas Pass, where neighborhoods once filled with homes had been replaced by giant incinerators brought in to dispose of the debris.
Shaw ended up giving away some 900 turkeys at each of those two locations.
“We’ve already decided to make this an annual event the Friday before Thanksgiving,” says Shaw. “Being able to help so many men and women, especially service members who have given so much of themselves to this country, is just something that needs to be done.”