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Bridgestone donates passenger van to Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County

Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County has a new van to transport children and teens after Bridgestone Retail Operations, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, donated a 2023 Ford Transit XLT to the nonprofit organization.

The donation is part of Bridgestone’s Driving Great Futures initiative, which has raised more than $20 million to support children and teens enrolled in Boys & Girls Clubs of America programs across the U.S. since 2015. Bridgestone representatives, including Area Manager Frank Ruperto, presented club members and staff with the passenger van on April 30 at the Park Meadows Community Club in Fort Myers.

“This new van isn’t just a vehicle,” said Denise Gergley, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County. “It’s a symbol of opportunity, connection and hope for the kids and families we serve. We are grateful for the support of Bridgestone, which is truly helping us drive great futures.”

In addition to the van, Bridgestone also surprised Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County with a $25,000 donation to support club programs.

“This is an amazing blessing for us, a complete surprise,” Gergley said. “We’re able to use that money to provide scholarships so children can attend our Summer Enrichment Camp, as well as pay for field trips and supplies that we need so our members can have an amazing and safe summer. The timing is perfect, and the gesture is beyond words.”

Boys & Girls Clubs programs are designed for youth ages 6 through 18 and focus on five core areas: education and career, service and leadership, health and wellness, the arts, and sports and recreation. Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County offers after-school and summer programs at eight school-based, neighborhood and community club locations.

The new 15-seat passenger van is equipped with world-class Bridgestone tires and will provide transportation to and from club locations. Additionally, Boys & Girls Clubs will use the van to transport members on field trips, college tours and other enrichment opportunities. Bridgestone also will provide ongoing maintenance for the van at its retail stores in Southwest Florida to ensure the van remains in good working order.

“At Bridgestone, we believe in the transformative power of Boys & Girls Clubs programming to bridge gaps and build strong futures for young people,” said Marko Ibrahim, president of Bridgestone Retail Operations. “We are honored to help Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County reach more kids and teens who will now have access to life-changing resources and experiences.”

“It’s a 15-passenger van; it was hard to get on the market, but we essentially wrapped it up in some nice decals, put some Firestone and Bridgestone tires on it, and really got it rocking and rolling,” Ruperto added. “Seeing the kids and hearing their laughter, seeing them excited about their futures and what that means to them… I don’t think they even know the impact of what that car is going to do for them.”

In 2015, Bridgestone established its national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America with the mission of making out-of-school programming more accessible to club youth and their families. Through donations collected at the company’s 2,200+ retail stores, Bridgestone has contributed funds to address transportation-related needs, including maintenance and repairs of existing club vehicles and the purchase of new vans, as well as bridge technology divides through the purchase of new computers and hotspots that support in-person club programming, virtual classroom learning and other technology infrastructure needs.

The Bridgestone Driving Great Futures partnership aligns with the Bridgestone E8 Commitment that consists of eight Bridgestone-like values starting with the letter “E” to realize a sustainable society. The Driving Great Futures initiative is an example of the company’s commitment to “Empowerment,” which is defined as contributing to a society that ensures accessibility and dignity for all and “Emotion,” defined as inspiring excitement and spreading joy to the world of mobility.

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