Niles dealership collects food, toys for those in need

NILES — It has been a little less than a year that Katelyn Robbins, business development manager, has been with the Campbell Ford Lincoln dealership in Niles.

Her first week of work in early January was a memorable one as she helped deliver nearly one ton of food donations to the Niles Salvation Army. The experience is one she hopes to recreate again in the coming month. 

The dealership, located at 2801 S. 11th St., has launched its holiday spirit of giving campaigns supporting both the Niles Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. This year, the dealership is again collecting canned food at its location for the Salvation Army Niles location, as well as new, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots program.

“This food drive is important to Campbell Ford Lincoln because a food pantry does more than just provide food to the hungry,” reads a statement from the dealership. “They can help to increase the variety of foods people eat and contribute to better health.”

The Toys for Tots program, run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, is also an organization close to the dealership’s staff members’ hearts.

With Niles’ location close to larger cities in the region, Robbins said the Salvation Army Niles location specifically is the community partner they wanted to donate to.

With the canned goods donated, the Salvation Army will be able to produce hot meals for its Lunch Bunch feeding program, Robbins said.

When Robbins first joined the team last year, the dealership had already collected the donations, but she got to be personally involved in delivering them.

“We took a truckload full of food, a Ford F-150,” Robbins said. “They were so happy and helpful. I actually took some of the Campbell Ford Lincoln employees with me. I think it was really important for them to have that experience. I don’t think they had experienced something on that level of being involved with something greater than themselves.”

Robbins remembered her co-workers’ reactions, and how they had been able to interact with those showing up to the Salvation Army location for their own meals that day.

“It was a really good experience for them to be a part of that,” Robbins said.

This year, during COVID-19, the program looks a bit different, with meals packaged to-go.

The dealership’s canned food drive last holiday season yielded a full Ford F-150 truck bed of donations.

“The estimation of the food we donated was about 1 ton, or 2,000 pounds,” Robbins said.

This year, the dealership hopes to do the same.

The Toys for Tots drive will continue through Dec. 12, so that the toys may be given to the organization to be distributed to children in need.

The Salvation Army food drive will last through the end of the year.

Donations may be taken to the dealership’s location, and if those donating need help unloading their donations, Robbins said staff will be happy to help.

Donations may also be matched with a car wash, Robbins said.

Those donating may receive one free car wash for every two cans of food they donate, or a car wash for every new, unwrapped toy they bring in to donate.

“We are just trying to think of new, creative ways to entice people to come by and donate to a cause,” Robbins said.

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