Giving Something Tangible

November 21, 2012

Ali Berney and the staff at Carbiz are all too familiar with the negative stereotypes associated with the used-car business.

That’s why when Berney, finance manager at the Glen car dealership, contacted local charities to ask for their participation in the company’s newest giving initiative, she was prepared for a certain amount of skepticism.

And that was the case earlier this fall when Carbiz reached out to several organizations and offered them the chance to be a part of its Thanksgiving turkey drive.

“I think at first they were kind of taken aback because I was contacting them, reaching out to them, saying, ‘Hey, can you participate?’” Berney said. “They don’t expect a car dealership … contributing in this sort of way. It took a lot of convincing on my part to say, ‘Hey, we want to give you this. This is the real deal.’”

Their plan was simple. For every vehicle sold between Nov. 1 and Nov. 19, Carbiz donated one turkey to the car buyer and allowed the customer to donate a second turkey to one of three local organizations: Bea Gaddy Family Centers Inc., The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore or Catholic Charities of Baltimore.

Customers were also given the opt-ion of giving their personal turkeys to charity as well. Berney said a good portion of car buyers elected to go that route. Through the first two weeks of the drive, Carbiz had amassed more than 75 turkeys destined for needy families.

“People say, ‘I have 10-15 dollars to a buy a turkey myself, let me donate this one to a good cause,’” Berney said. “They appreciate the opportunity to give something tangible rather than just money.”
The staff at Advance has taken a similar approach.

Each year, the Cockeysville-based document management company partners with local organizations that pair Advance with a few needy families who are experiencing challenging circumstances during the holiday season.

Like Carbiz, Advance aims to give material necessities rather than just money alone. Provided with the families’ information, including the children’s age and gender, the company accumulates suitable food, clothing and toys to improve their holiday experience.

Advance’s effort is an informal, grassroots initiative; employees are not required to donate. However, the company’s executives explain that when presented with the opportunity in a pressure-free environment, a majority of the staff feels compelled to do its part.

“Giving is a very personal thing, and it should come from the heart and the head,” Advance President Jeff Elkin said. “A good portion of our employees end up contributing.”

With so many worthy nonprofits in the area, Elkin said that it’s a struggle each year to select which ones to aid. He said that when it comes to doing their part during the holidays, it’s never about publicity, but about doing the right thing to support the local community.

“It’s partly a Jewish thing. We’re brought up to give back. Obviously, we’re not a Jewish company, but being a Jewish-owned company, our value system is inherent in what we do,” Elkin said. “We’re a local company, we’re members of the community, and there’s a need there. It’s the value system that you are brought up with, you help those in need.”

Charities across the city are grateful for the efforts of companies such as Carbiz and Advance.

Bea Gaddy Family Centers Executive Director Cynthia Brooks said that because of Hurricane Sandy, donations aren’t as plentiful this year. As a result, any added assistance her organization receives is welcome.

“At this time of the year, everybody has a spirit that comes over them,” Brooks said. “They want to help somebody, and it makes them feel good — especially when they help somebody they don’t know.”

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