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News Community Local car dealership works to benefit veterans

To help celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, Smoky Mountain Chevrolet (SMC) decided to sponsor events that give back to the men and women who serve the country. SMC launched two events that encouraged community members to chip in and help out veterans in the community.

SMC began by collecting used cell phones for service members currently serving the nation in their “Cell Phone for Soldiers” drive.

“Cell Phones for Soldiers is an awesome program,” said Tiffani Tallent, SMC's Internet Director. “Cell Phones for Soldiers takes those old unwanted cell phones that everyone has in those “junk drawers” at home and turns them in to free calling minutes for united states military stationed overseas.”

According to Tallent, overseas phone calls can average $3.99 a minute, making calls home few and far between. “Cell Phones for Soldiers makes those calls home to loved ones more feasible,” explained Tallent. “We have been a registered Cell Phones for Soldiers drop off point for several months. We have done a couple of drives and they have always been successful. Again, a great way to celebrate Independence Day, we wanted to host another cell phone drive. For each cell phone donated individuals can register to win a free $200 gas card. We have set up a bin in our waiting room here at the dealership and it is filling up fast.”

In addition to their cell phone drive, SMC turned to social media to help raise money for the local Vietnam Veterans, Smoky Mountain Chapter 994. For every “like” SMC received on their Facebook page, the business pledged to donate $1 to the Vietnam Veterans Association Scholarship.

“At Smoky Mountain Chevrolet we wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July in a big way, by giving back to those who always give so much to us,” said Tallent. “What better way than by honoring those in our local community. The Vietnam Veterans Association Scholarship is sponsored by our local Vietnam Veterans, Smoky Mountain Chapter 994. The scholarship fund is actually awarded to the child, grandchild, or great grandchild, of a Vietnam veteran from Macon, Jackson or Swain County.”

Tallent said Bob Crawford, SMC's General Manager came up with the idea for the VVA fundraiser in hopes of hosting an easy, fun way for the community to help veterans in the community. “I approached Bob Crawford with the Cell Phones for Soldiers drive and then he came up with the VVA fundraiser,” said Tallent. “We wanted to do something with our dealership Facebook page because it’s such a great way to get the word out to the public. For every “like” we get on our Facebook page thrugh July 7, we will donate $1 up to $1,000 to the scholarship fund.”

Like the cell phone drive, anyone who participated in the Facebook fundraiser will also be entered in the drawing for a free $200 gas card. So far, the Facebook page has received a lot of traffic. “We went from 847 likes to 886 likes in just a couple days and the numbers are still climbing,” explained Tallent. “We hope to get 1,000 likes to make our donation a great one. We are also having a $10 over invoice sale on all new vehicles in stock, and we will donate $50 for every vehicle sold.”

“I’d like to thank everyone that has participated so far in making our donation to the VVA or Cell Phones for Soldiers a successful one,” said Crawford.

Tallent explained that fundraisers like the ones SMC are currently holding are important for the community at large. “It was started just for the sake of celebrating the Fourth,” she said. “And we always try to benefit local charities, or include local businesses when we do an event here. We’re a local dealership and the great people of Macon County are what keeps us going; so we always try to benefit the local community in some way.”

The events were launched the last week in June and will continue to run through Saturday, July 7.

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