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Local business wheels and deals to bring smiles to children at Christmas

December 10, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Allan Persaud, Toyota sales manager at Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Chambersburg, Pa., stands next to bicycles that will be donated to the Toys for Tots program.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A Chambersburg car dealership is wheelin' and dealin' to make Christmas merry for local children.

It's a special two-for-four deal — you bring in two wheels, and in return you'll get four wheels.

The staff at Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Chambersburg came up with a way to benefit its loyal customers and donate to Toys for Tots this holiday season.

Gwen Whisler of Newville, Pa., was impressed by the generosity of the local business when she stopped in on Saturday.

"We thought that was a pretty noble thing for their dealership to do," Whisler said.

Before she drove away in a Toyota Highlander, she bought a brand-new 20-inch pink girls bicycle to donate to Toys for Tots.

Not only was it a chance to give back to those these fortunate, but it also was a teachable moment for her 7-year-old twins.

"This is the season for giving, and we need to look out for each other," Whisler said.

This is the first year that the car dealership embarked on the program.

John Fitzgerald, owner and chief executive officer of Fitzgerald Auto Malls, supports the trade-in 110 percent.

"Anything for the kids. I don't care what it costs," Fitzgerald said.

"We are helping out the community and the kids. It's a win-win situation," said Allan Persaud, Toyota sales manager for Fitzgerald.

He said the bicycles range from $39 to $100, but Persaud said he's trimming $300 t0 $3,000 off the cost of a new Toyota.

So far, Fitzgerald has collected about 50 bicycles to donate to Toys for Tots. The program will continue through Dec. 17.

"For a child to get a shiny, new bicycle on Christmas that is going to be an unforgettable Christmas. So when we see 50 new bicycles, we see 50 unforgettable Christmases," Persaud said.

Toys for Tots spokesman Thomas Hazlett said the program is unique.

Bicycles are the hot ticket item on just about every child's Christmas list, Hazlett said.

After serving 22 1/2 years in the Marine Corps, Hazlett has devoted his time to giving back to his fellow man in a different way — through Toys for Tots. He coordinates the program in Franklin, Fulton and south Cumberland counties.

This year about 3,000 children, newborn to age 17, will receive toys, he said.

For him, giving back is personal.

"I grew up in a family of eight kids, and it was everything that my parents could do to give us a Christmas," he said.

On Dec. 18, he'll give parents all of the toys that have been collected.

"You will have parents cry and hug you. They thank you over and over again," Hazlett said. "It's just a great feeling to be able to help them."

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