NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bridgestone Retail Operations L.L.C. is distributing $875,000 in grants to 80 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide to help them with their transportation needs, including 10 clubs that need new vans.
The funds come from Bridgestone's Driving Great Futures program, which solicits donations from customers at the company's 2,200-plus retail stores throughout the U.S. Bridgestone Retail (BSRO) has been a national corporate partner of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) since 2015.
BSRO is donating grants worth $7,500 to 70 clubs to help them maintain and repair their existing fleets of vehicles, hire licensed bus drivers and more. Meanwhile, 10 clubs received $35,000 grants toward the purchase of a 2018 Toyota Sienna passenger van equipped with Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flat tires.
These vehicles will help transport more members to and from their local club, BSRO said, as well as to off-site activities to enhance their club experience.
"Transportation is a huge challenge for most Boys & Girls Clubs across the country," Kimberly Key, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento, said.
"Our own organization serves 6,000 youth in Sacramento, and yet we have just two vans and they are often run down and in need of repairs," she said. "Some of our kids must walk through unsafe neighborhoods to get here and others would love to participate but cannot due to lack of transportation. We also have to opt out of field trips because we simply can't get the kids to off-site locations."
Firestone Complete Auto Care store employees in the area recently collaborated with Ms. Key to deliver a Bridgestone Driving Great Futures van — complete with a big red bow and police escort — to the Teichert Branch, which is the flagship location of the Sacramento group.
Patrick Ogeerally, Firestone Complete Auto Care store manager and a beneficiary of club activity in the 1980s, personally delivered the new van to the club.
"(The club) had a huge impact on my life," he said. "Being able to deliver the van and improve the local kids' club experience is like coming full circle for me."
Jesus Magana, director of the Sacramento club, said, "Knowing that we won't have to stop on the side of the road with a van full of kids to fix a flat tire gives me peace of mind. The Bridgestone DriveGuard tires were a really nice touch."
Other clubs selected for the $35,000 grant are located in Green Bay, Wis.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Nashville, Tenn.; Kansas City, Mo.; DeLand, Fla.; Holyoke, Mass.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Garden Grove, Calif.; and Tacoma, Wash.
Boys & Girls Clubs provide high-impact programming during critical out-of-school hours with a focus on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. The partnership between BGCA and BSRO is one of many ways that Bridgestone fulfills "Our Way to Serve," the company's global commitment to corporate social responsibility, particularly to enhance the way people live, learn and work
During the Driving Great Futures campaign, which ran June through November, customers who visited Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus, Hibdon Tires Plus and Wheel Works locations were encouraged to donate to BGCA with the purchase of tire and automotive services.
Credit First National Association (CFNA), a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, pledged to contribute 50 cents for every credit card application.
Several key BSRO vendor partners also supported the promotion: Shell pledged 25 cents for every Pennzoil high-mileage or synthetic blend oil change; Interstate Batteries pledged 25 cents for every free battery test performed on customer vehicles; and ITW/QMI pledged 25 cents for each fuel system cleaning or Renu 500 fuel additive sold.
BSRO has raised more than $5 million since 2015 to support BGCA.