The Salvation Army and Toyota Provide Groceries to Families Struggling During COVID-19

May 26, 2020

The Salvation Army and Advantage Toyota of River Oaks in Calumet City joined forces on May 22 to provide boxes of groceries to families who have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are grateful for Toyota’s generosity and concern,” said Captain Brian Clark, Salvation Army Lake County Coordinator. “Their support means we can feed struggling families.”

Those struggling families included Sharon Rolark, who came to the food distribution with her granddaughter. “This help means a lot to me. I was a victim of the COVID, and I’m on fixed income,” Sharon said. When asked what she would have done without the box of food, she said, “I don’t know. Just trust God. Somebody might have something [for us], but it might not be enough. This here is enough.”

Each grocery box contained enough perishable and non-perishable items, such as chickens, juice, boxes of cereal, and canned goods, to feed a family of four for a week. The boxes were carefully packed and assembled by The Salvation Army in accordance with safety guidelines from local, state, and federal health officials. The day of the distribution, recipients pulled up to the curb, where Army and Toyota staff placed the food boxes in the trunk or back seat of each car.

The food giveaway was not a first for Advantage Toyota. The dealership has been giving out food – provided by vendors and churches – to locals in need for weeks. This was their first collaboration with the Army. “The Salvation Army is one of those groups that you know the money goes to helping people,” said Tim Thorn, General Sales Manager at Advantage Toyota, who grew up in Calumet City. “This area has been decimated by the coronavirus. The need we’re seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Advantage Toyota is part of the Toyota/Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association, through which the food distribution was arranged. This diverse dealer group in the Toyota family understands the need to give back to the communities in which they live and serve. As Advantage Toyota General Manager Jason Roberts said, “This isn’t just something we should do, it’s something we must do.”

Ignacio, one of the customer service representatives who helped distribute the food boxes, said he was grateful for a chance to help. He lives ten minutes from the dealership and knows the neighborhood has seen a lot of job loss. “I like the smiles we were able to put on people’s faces,” he said. “People were really appreciative. You could tell they really meant it when they thanked us.”

Captain Clark was not surprised by the eager recipients. “Lake County has been badly hit,” he said. “Since April 4, we’ve had over 50 tons of food donated and it’s all gone. We’ve seen more and more first timers to our food pantry as well,” he said. The rising need necessitates donations and partnerships, such as the one with Toyota, to ensure all who need help receive it. “It’s great when different organizations in a community collaborate with us to provide for those who are struggling,” said Captain Clark.

Sharon, one of the recipients, wasn’t surprised to find The Salvation Army helping people in her neighborhood. “This is my favorite organization,” she said. “When I had breast cancer, they paid my gas bill. They were the only one who helped me. That’s why I don’t have a problem giving to The Salvation Army. They are very, very good people.”

Learn about all the ways The Salvation Army is responding to the coronavirus – as well as how you can help – at salarmychicago.org/coronavirus


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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.


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