Driving for the future

HARLINGEN — It’s a new car!

Or, more specifically, a 2019 Toyota Sienna van for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen.

“It’s a big thing for us,” said Alma Dones, unit director of the Main Unit of the organization.

The new van was unveiled yesterday at the regular board meeting of the Boys and Girls Clubs. The organization was awarded a $41,000 grant from the Bridgestone Retail Operations’ Driving Great Futures program.

“Bridgestone provided the funding for the van, the wrapping, and special Bridgestone tires,” Gerald Gathright, the Boys and Girls Clubs chief professional officer, said. “It’s a grant for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The Boys and Girls Clubs has a relationship with Toyota, so that helps us get better pricing.”

The clubs already have one van, Dones said, and the new vehicle will definitely augment that one.

“We do already have a van but we have five club sites,” she said. “We need it for different purposes, taking kids to different educational events, trips.”

And it goes beyond that.

“Sometimes we go above and beyond for families,” Dones said. “It can serve as an added resource to take these families, like an emergency type situation.”

Approval for the new van required a lengthy application process, and Gathright is delighted by the result.

“The new van will be a great addition that will enable us to get club members to educational field trips, special academic contests, and training for staff,” he said. “It will provide reliable transportation that will be safe, clean and reliable. It will also serve as a rolling announcement about our organization.”

That’s right. Before being delivered to the board meeting yesterday, it was thoroughly wrapped with the clubs’ logo. Anytime the van takes kids, families and staff members to an activity, they’ll be promoting the organization that’s making it possible.

“We keep growing,” Dones said. “The kids keep coming. The more resources we get, the more we apply it, the more kids we impact as well.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen serves thousands of kids around the city at five separate club sites. The organization offers a place for kids to get tutoring, participate in sports events, and experience numerous academic activities such as STEM camps.