Area car dealers help with Haitian relief

Representing area dealerships standing to help Haiti are, from left, Stuart Brabston, Ted Russell Dealerships; Jay Beeler, Jim Cogdill Dodge; Philip Comer, Jim Cogdill Dodge; Dave Myers, West Chevrolet; Larry Toney, West Chevrolet; Jonathan Pyatt, Toyota Knoxville; Jay Hines, West Chevrolet; Ronals Starr, West Chevrolet; Charles West, West Chevrolet and Jerry Hodge, Twin City Dealerships.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Representing area dealerships standing to help Haiti are, from left, Stuart Brabston, Ted Russell Dealerships; Jay Beeler, Jim Cogdill Dodge; Philip Comer, Jim Cogdill Dodge; Dave Myers, West Chevrolet; Larry Toney, West Chevrolet; Jonathan Pyatt, Toyota Knoxville; Jay Hines, West Chevrolet; Ronals Starr, West Chevrolet; Charles West, West Chevrolet and Jerry Hodge, Twin City Dealerships.

A car hauler pulled out of West Chevrolet Monday morning, Feb. 8, with 8 trucks headed for Florida and then Haiti.

The trucks were donated by West Chevrolet, Rick McGill’s Airport Toyota, Ted Russell Ford, Dave Kirk Automotive of Crossville, Twin City Buick-GMC, Jim Cogdill Dodge and Toyota of Knoxville. The donation was in response to a call for transportation assistance from representatives of the Bush-Clinton relief organization, led by the two former presidents.

A Central Florida dealer, Walker Starling, spearheaded the effort, issuing a call for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) to challenge its member dealers to donate at least 100 pickup trucks to this effort.

Charles West of West Chevrolet said the eight trucks donated from area dealerships combined with trucks donated from across the Eastern United States were quickly making the goal attainable.

“It looks like we’re going to do it,” said West regarding the challenge. “The GM Foundation is giving 30 trucks, and I think Roger Penske gave 30.”

More trucks were expected to be headed to the Jacksonville port to be delivered to Haiti. “This is the Volunteer State, and this was the best way we could make a difference quickly for people who need immediate help,” West said.

Jerry Hodge of Twin City Dealerships said this area’s dealerships are sending eight. “As fortunate as we are to have things we take for granted everyday, it’s the least we can do,” he said.

Mike Mencer, manager of Ole Ben Franklin Motors in Knoxville, said he recently lost a son-in-law in a traffic accident, and he empathized with those who suffered such the widespread tragedy in Haiti. “Anytime we can help other people out we should, that’s what we ought to do,” he said.

Stuart Brabston of Ted Russell Dealerships said one of the principles this country was founded on was a responsibility to help others. “That’s what we’re trying to do. The devastation is unimaginable to us,” he said.

Jonathan Pyatt, Toyota of Knoxville, said, “To be able to send this, if it doesn’t save a life, it will help improve life.”

Jay Beeler, Jim Cogdill Dodge, said the dealership staff were glad to help. “We’re just thankful we can do what we’re doing,” he said.

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