North Bakersfield Toyota

When a fire orphaned five children, this California dealership quickly stepped in to help
by Dan Miller
May/June 2019
North Bakersfield Toyota
Care Package
Here’s a small sample of the items collected by North Bakersfield Toyota. People in the community as well as dealership employees joined forces to fill up the beds of three Tacomas.
Tragedy and heartache are the stock and trade of the daily news. But some stories are so deeply tragic, they compel people — like the employees at North Bakersfield Toyota — to act.
Such was the case in February when a mother lost her life trying to rescue her five children from a fire in their central California home. Four years before that, Kristina Stratton’s husband and the father of three of her children died of cancer. So the kids, who’d managed to break a window and escape from the top floor of the house, suddenly became orphans.
“My wife, Hela, heard about it the morning it happened and called me at the dealership,” says Sales Manager Amir Ayyoub. “She said, ‘I know you guys are active in the community. Isn’t there something you could do to help?’”
So Ayyoub conferred with North Bakersfield Toyota’s management team and a plan quickly emerged: The dealership would serve as a drop-off location for people who were moved to donate items the children might need. The store also leveraged its relationships with local media outlets to help spread the word. And many of its employees lent a hand, contributing items as well as putting out a call to their friends and family via their personal social media channels.
Within 10 days, North Bakersfield Toyota had collected enough bedding, clothes, shoes and other necessities to fill three Tacomas. They delivered the goods, along with a monetary donation, to the family’s church.
“They were extremely grateful,” says Ayyoub. “They actually ended up with more than they could use, so they donated the rest to other people in need.
“Mostly we just wanted to let these kids know that they were not alone, that this community is here to support them. It was incredibly heartening to see that something so good could come out of something so terrible.”
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