As the holiday spirit chugs along, I’m reminded of our desire to be charitable, hospitable and show good will to our fellow man (and woman). I have been writing this column for more than a year and I frequently look back at previous articles for inspiration or a thought-starter. As I reviewed one particular story I realized it needed to be published again – so here it is.
Kansas City’s new car dealers are invested in their communities. Literally and figuratively. From the literal standpoint, each dealership is a financial commitment to the municipality in which it conducts business, to the county and state in which it pays taxes, and to its local citizens that it employs. The money poured into the bricks and mortar that house the operations and surrounding property exceeds half a billion dollars.
Figuratively, dealers are pillars in their communities. They contribute to local causes regularly and happily. They recognize the importance of giving back. They are among the first to volunteer, offer in-kind services and donate to worthy endeavors. Sometimes the beneficiaries of the dealers’ philanthropy are well known. Often, the recipients are just “Regular Joes” who need a helping hand in an emergency situation. A few years ago I surveyed the Kansas City auto dealers, seeking the names of the charitable organizations they supported. Within a couple of hours I had a list of more than 400 different organizations. That’s strong.
Dealers are there. A retired dealer friend of mine told me that each year he identifies a dollar amount he plans to contribute to his pet causes. Recently he purchased an expensive piece of medical equipment for a hospital because he happened to overhear a conversation between a doctor and a patient. The patient was in desperate need of treatment from a specialized breathing machine. The hospital didn’t have the apparatus. The dealer took it upon himself to step up, and within the week the hospital had the funds to make that equipment purchase. In fact, the dealer negotiated directly with the manufacturer to get the best price … and got floor mats tossed in to boot! When I learned of this story, I asked the dealer, “Why do you do it? Don’t you want some acknowledgment?” He replied, “No, I don’t need my name in lights. It just makes me feel good to help people.”
Just one shining example of our local good-deed doers.