Throughout April, whenever Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler hit the airwaves in a television commercial, one of the things that stood out was the children in it and the plug the dealership gave to Operation Breakthrough.
Obviously, Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler, 8775 Metcalf Ave., in Overland Park, highlighted several of the vehicles it had on sale. But it was just as important to the dealership to bring attention to Operation Breakthrough.
Each year, Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler picks six charities in the Kansas City area for its annual charity “Giving Back Campaign.”
In addition to providing a monetary donation to a charity based on the amount of cars sold during a specific time period, the dealership also provides awareness to a charity through television commercials.
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“I buy the advertising on TV so they get the free advertising for their charity,” said Norman Vialle, owner of Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler. “It is really a win-win for them. Most of them say they like the TV advertising more than the actually money I give them.
“One of things we found to attract attention to the charity is to film the commercial at their location. Whether they are students, patients or whatever the organization is, it gets the people involved in the commercial. Honestly, the kids love being on TV, too. The charities love putting the kids on there.”
Operation Breakthrough was started in 1971 by Sister Berta Sailer and Sister Corita Bussanmas. It moved to its current location at 31st and Troost in 1981. The center has a broad range of social services to meet the needs of the children and their families.
Operation Breakthrough cares each weekday for more than 400 children, ages 6 weeks to 13 years old. More than 98 percent of the enrolled families live below the federal poverty guidelines.
“They help the urban core kids,” Vialle said. “They help hundreds of kids every day. They provide childcare. They provide education. They just really do a fantastic job.”
Vialle said it is important to help out when you are in position to do so.
“It is not only important, it is the right thing to do,” he said. “Ethically, morally, I think it is the right thing to do. People don’t need a handout, they need a hand up.”
Operation Breakthrough definitely appreciates the help and the exposure the commercials give it. Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler did the same thing last year for Operation Breakthrough.
“It is wonderful they do this because it gets the word out on our kids,” Sailer said. “It is nice for the kids to be on the commercial. They are selling cars, which is good. But a portion of it comes to us.”
In January and February, Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler supported the Shadow Buddies Foundation.
“Shadow Buddies is a local organization that provides Shadow Buddy dolls for kids who are going through surgery,” Vialle said. “It is one of my favorite charities.”
Shadow Buddies are condition-specific dolls designed to be a friend “just like me” for seriously ill or medically challenged children. The Buddies not only provide comfort to the ill child, but also provide physicians a hands-on method of educating children and their families about a particular disease or medical condition that has been recently diagnosed and its treatment.
“It makes it less scary for the kids,” Vialle said. “It is a great organization.”
When they do these types of commercials, Vialle said, some of their customers notice.
“We have had some customers mention it, absolutely,” he said. “They like the fact that we are trying to give back. It has been talked about on more than one occasion with a customer. I am sure there are customers who have seen it and don’t mention it.”
Vialle hopes whenever the dealership puts the name of a local charity in an ad that it sparks an interest in that charity.
“People forget about the charities and all the good work they do,” he said.
If you have a story you would like to see in Making a Difference, email David Boyce at Drive@ksctar.com