Under sunny blue skies on a crisp Monday morning, Major Evie Diaz, divisional commander of Salvation Army, received keys to a new Ford Transit Connect van from Shawnee Mission Ford Vice President Brad Shull.
Diaz and Shull smiled as applause erupted from the crowd of 30 people gathered at the Salvation Army office at 3637 Broadway St., in downtown Kansas City
It was a significant moment. Not only was Ford Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company Fund donating a van that can carry up to 1,100 meals, a check of $10,000 was presented to the Salvation Army, which will help with its food box program in Kansas City.
“To have this partnership means a lot,” Diaz said. “We are grateful to have these resources to help us specifically to provide food.
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“It is really important, of course, all year round, but this time of year it seems to be more difficult for families and the struggles they have, so the support we get is great.”
The transit van, which arrived from Shawnee Mission Ford, 11501 W. Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee, came already wrapped with the Salvation Army logo.
Kansas City was one of five cities across the country that received a Ford Transit Connect van to help fight hunger. The other cities that received vans this week were Louisville, Miami, Phoenix and Dallas.
“The first step in creating a better world is helping to fulfill the most basic needs of our neighbors,” said Janet Lawson, director of the Ford Motor Company Fund, in a press release. “More than 48 million Americans live in fear of going hungry each day, and these vehicles will deliver meals not just during this season of giving but throughout the year.”
Shull was happy that Shawnee Mission Ford was able to play a role in Monday’s donation by the Ford Motor Company.
“We are thrilled to represent the Kansas City Ford Dealers and the van donation to a great organization in the area,” Shull said. “We (Ford Dealerships) all have our primary market areas, and this happened to be Shawnee Mission’s primary market area so that is why the van was shipped through there.
“I am so fortunate to be in the automotive business and working with Ford Motor Company that gives back to the community. The community is what propels the automotive dealerships, and to be able to give back to the community is what this is all about.”
Throughout the year, Ford finds different projects in the Kansas City area in which it can help out. In recent years, Ford has been able to give more because of the rebound at the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, where the F-150 pickup and the Transit van are made.
“This is an outstanding opportunity,” said Tony Reinhart, regional director, government affairs at Ford Motor Company. “Our presence in the community goes a long way. Being able to give back to the community, especially with all the investment in the plant, is what we are trying to do.
“Now, extending beyond just giving a cash donation to their holiday meals drive, we are part of the national program where we are giving five vans in five different communities this week, with Kansas City being one of those. It is a great opportunity for our community.”
The $10,000, Diaz said, will help provide 5,000 food boxes for families during the holiday season.
Shull said it is important to combat hunger year-round, but the problem is more noticeable during the holiday season.
“You always see the bell ringers outside the stores,” Shull said. “You know this time of year it comes up more often. I love it that we got involved.
“The Salvation Army was definitely a natural choice to benefit from the check and the van. I can’t think of a better organization.”
And the morning was just perfect for the presentation in the parking lot at the Salvation Army. There was no snow or rain to force the event inside.
“Mother Nature wouldn’t rain on this parade,” Reinhart said.
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