LAKELAND, Fla. — Action Gator Tire is broadening its community outreach with the launch of "Gator Gives," an initiative to assist individuals in the dealership's markets who deserve a "helping hand."
Gator Gives, an extension of the family-owned dealership's long-standing community outreach efforts, is committed to donating a set of tires and a year of auto service worth up to $2,500 to an individual who was nominated by customers and others as someone thought to be deserving of a helping hand, according to Fred Christensen, the third-generation owner of the 54-year-old company.
Action Gator received an "overwhelming" number of nominations, Mr. Christensen said, making the choice of one deserving recipient nearly impossible — so the company selected two Lakeland area residents: Antonio S., a working father of three, and Laurie H., a disabled single woman active in her church's homeless outreach programs.
"Looking through these (nominees) wrenches my heart," Mr. Christensen said. "I wish I could I could help all of them.
"We're thrilled by the reaction to Gator Gives," he added. "We wanted to be able to help the Lakeland community that's given so much to us, and we can't believe the kind of response the program has seen. I thought that people would be interested, but this has absolutely blown us away. We're so honored to be a part of such an amazing community."
Antonio S. is described as a working father of three who has been using one car to shuttle two of his children to regular doctor's appointments across Central Florida, racking up thousands of miles of driving.
The maintenance and tires he'll receive through Gator Gives will reduce wear and tear on his car, the dealership said, while providing a much-needed break to a hard-working parent trying to make ends meet.
Laurie H. is a disabled woman who is active in helping to feed the homeless through her church's food pantry ministry. Having to rely on disability as her income, she had been unable to get the repairs needed for her car since it broke down.
Laurie's influence on her community is clear because she received 10-plus nominations. Thanks to Gator Gives, Laurie will be able to transport herself to the doctor's office and visits to the store without having to walk or rely on friends and neighbors for rides.
Given the positive feedback on this first endeavor, Mr. Christensen said Action Gator plans to implement the initiative its other markets in Orlando and central Florida.
Action Gator has three stores in the Lakeland area, including one in Lakeland proper that opened this summer. The others are in Dundee and Plant City. Overall Action Gator has 28 locations in Florida and is planning to open its 29th, in Windermere, in October.
People were encouraged to submit a nominee of their choice at gatorgives.com, which will open a new round of nominations and community activities in the next few weeks