Toyota of Murfreesboro
“We started doing the bike giveaway last school year,” says Andy Obeissy, owner and general manager of the Tennessee dealership. “We wanted to give kids an incentive to come to school everyday.”
Children who have had perfect attendance in the previous month get their names put into a drawing for a free bike. Obeissy personally attends the drawings, which are held in school gymnasiums amid considerable fanfare and cheers, including handmade “Let’s Go Places” signs that students make in their art classes.
The dealership typically goes to three schools in Rutherford County per month. The events are promoted ahead of time by the schools’ principals who encourage the children to come to school every day in order to qualify for the drawings.
The dealership has given away about 20 bikes since beginning the program.
“It has been so rewarding for the kids,” Obeissy says. “Most of the kids who have won the bikes have never had a bike before.”
He enjoys seeing the happiness the program brings.
“We are pioneering the program in our community, and they have welcomed us with open arms,” he says, adding that the schools have said the program has a positive impact on attendance.
The dealership is planning another program to recognize students in the area for good grades. It likely will also involve donating bikes since they have been so popular, Obeissy says.
A side benefit has been the goodwill the program has garnered. Some parents of children attending schools where bikes have been given away have visited the dealership to buy cars.
“The parents will say, ‘My son or my daughter said they saw you at the school. You are the Toyota guy. They wanted us to visit,’ ” Obeissy says. “While that has been nice, it’s really about the kids. Seeing those kids so happy is wonderful.”