One morning early last week, the Merriam Police Department went to Aristocrat Motors’ campus at 9400 W. 65th St., for a little help in supporting child abuse awareness month.
“They asked to use our Sprinter Sporting KC van that we have wrapped for a photo so they could use it on their website and have a little more of a draw to it,” said Robert Hellweg, marketing director at Aristocrat Motors.
Through the years, Aristocrat Motors has involved itself in the community ranging from small, one-off charity events to long-term commitments.
Giving back to the community started receiving more emphasis nine years ago when Marion Battaglia took over as president of Soave Automotive Group, which runs Aristocrat Motors, Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City and BMW/Volkswagen of Topeka.
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“It was to go out into the community to support charities, institutions in the community and support the arts in the community,” Hellweg said.
One involvement that is easy to see is at the Kauffman Center where a car from Aristocrat Motors is on the property.
“We are the building sponsors, and we were one of the grand opening sponsors,” Hellweg said.
Other charity work of Aristocrat Motors might go unnoticed by the public. For instance, Aristocrat Motors has a relationship with Sleepyhead Beds, a Kansas City non-profit organization that was started in 2010.
The mission of Sleepyhead Beds is to improve the quality of life for children and their families by providing clean, recycled beds and bedding.
Kevin Lillilea, vice president and CFO for Soave Automotive Group, is on the board of directors for Sleepyhead Beds.
“Sleepyhead Beds is an amazing cause,” Hellweg said. “They take mattresses and pair them with children who are basically sleeping on the floor or multiple in beds in Kansas City. What they have found is by providing a child a place to sleep is that you have a confidence builder.
“You have a security builder, and oftentimes they end up performing better in school because they are rested when they go to school. They have the idea that they mean something. They mean something more than a day ago because they are sleeping in their own bed and they have some privacy in their own bed. It has been an amazing thing.”
One of the upcoming projects for Sleepyhead Beds that Aristocrat Motors will help with occurs May 30 when volunteers will go to one of the dorms at the University of Kansas to pick up mattresses.
“In one day they will have 600 mattresses that they will be able to distribute in the Kansas City area,” Hellweg said. “They will take them through their process of cleaning them and delivering them to children.
“We are supporting it through the membership we have with them. We will provide them an extra vehicle or two to move the mattresses. We will also provide staff.”
Hellweg said Sleepyhead Beds is looking for more volunteers for this project. To find out more about Sleepyhead Beds, go to www.sleepyheadbeds.org.
For Aristocrat Motors, this is one of many charitable events the company will be involved in this summer. Another one is Drive for a Cause, which benefits the Rose Brooks Center. The Kansas City organization protects victims of domestic violence by providing emergency shelter to escape immediate danger.
Money is raised for Drive for a Cause through donations. The event allows people who sign up to drive cars on a five-mile designated course.
“It gives people a chance to drive a car they might not be able to, and the money goes for such a great cause,” Hellweg said.
Another event Aristocrat Motors will hold this summer on its lot is Food Truck Showdown for Harvesters.
Some of Kansas City’s finest food trucks will be on the Aristocrat Motors campus. Last year, for a $2 donation, participants selected a meal from one of the six food trucks, and 100 percent of the donations went to Harvesters. It attracted more than 800 people and raised more than $5,000 for Harvesters.
“It is great for the morale of our employees,” Hellweg said. “Our staff takes pride in the fact that we are different and we are a leader in this.
“Children, for us, are one of our keys for our outreach efforts. Another thing we have supported is Children’s Mercy Hospital. The Kansas City community is so blessed to have them.”
If you have a story you would like to see in Making a Difference, email David Boyce at Drive@ksctar.com