ATLANTA — Third-generation first responder Jamie Haddon was building a campfire with his family in his Doylestown, Pa., backyard when he learned he was getting a free set of tires.
"I was completely surprised," Mr. Haddon said. "… It took me a few seconds to compute."
Tire distributor TireHub L.L.C. and affiliated service shops provided free tires to essential workers serving the community on the front lines of the pandemic through the program Helping Hoops. In total, the company awarded 300 tires.
Kershaw & Fritz Tire Service Inc. in Doylestown chose Mr. Haddon.
"Jaime is an extremely family-oriented man and very hard worker," Dave Fritz, owner of Kershaw & Fritz Tire, said. "… As an EMT, he is also helping the community tremendously with assisting those in need of care, not knowing who is infected or not with COVID-19."
Mr. Haddon is an emergency medical technician with Central Bucks (County) Emergency Medical Services.
He also contracted COVID-19.
When the pandemic hit, "we really just started to see an uptick in the amount of cases we were handling," Mr. Haddon said in a video posted by Kershaw & Fritz Tire. "... With that, I contracted COVID."
He moved into a camper on his property to quarantine away from his family for a month. He said he felt some comfort being able see his wife and kids through the windows of the camper and on video, but it wasn't the same as being out there with them.
"Honestly, there's a lot of my peers that are doing the same thing," Mr. Haddon said.
"It's humbling, I always go (to Kershaw & Fritz Tire) for my tires, and they know me and my family. … I don't think of myself as anything special, but they made me feel like I had done something special."
Helping Hoops is TireHub's second recognition program. The first, Project Joyride, donated tires to customers during the 2019 holiday season.
"Some of our industry-veteran Hubbers use 'hoops' as slang for tires," a company spokesperson said, "and with this being a project about giving back, we thought it was a perfect name to describe what we wanted to do and also reflect who we are as a company."
In July, TireHub CEO Peter Gibbons said the program was a rewarding experience for everyone involved. TireHub, cofounded by Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Goodyear in 2018, operates 70 logistics centers throughout the U.S.
"Helping Hoops is a tangible representation of how we bring our mission, vision and promise to life. We are passionate about giving back and providing a safe driving experience, especially for people traveling to work throughout the COVID-19 crisis," Mr. Gibbons said.
In addition to the tires donated by TireHub, many tire dealers also gave customers oil changes and other auto maintenance and services free of charge, the company said.
Mr. Fritz said the program was a good way to help the business' marketing efforts.
"COVID has been a challenge for all, no doubt about it," Mr. Fritz said. "… Since we were allowed to stay open as 'essential,' we reached out to our customer base and the community via direct mail and social media just to let folks know we were here if they needed us.
"Helping Hoops was the 'icing on the cake' in helping out a first responder. We also partnered with a local supplier for free oil changes for health care workers in area."