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Mazda dealerships team up for charity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Local Mazda dealers recently donated $23,700 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico as part of a holiday fundraising effort.

Called the Drive for Good, the national campaign earmarked $150 for every test drive taken at Mazda dealers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe between the middle of November and the beginning of January, said Annette DiLorenzo Thayer, dealer principal of Quality Mazda.

Customers who agreed to a test drive could choose one of the four national charities in St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, the American Red Cross, American Heart Association and the Mazda Foundation Inc., or choose to earmark the money for the Ronald McDonald House, which was encouraged, she said.

“We always point to them to our little, local ones,” Thayer said.

It’s important to support local causes, said Randy Price, dealer principal of University Mazda Volkswagen.

“That way all the money stayed in New Mexico and it helps affect the lives of the people that live here,” he said. “That was our goal, to make sure all the money stayed in New Mexico.”

And while there are many worthwhile local charities, putting the money toward one helped make a bigger difference there, he said.

“When we aim for one program we can make more of an impact,” Price said. “We can have much more power to affect people’s lives. When each dealer picks its own, it cuts the money in half and can’t do as much for a good program.”

And since it only requires a test drive, it’s fairly easy to get customers involved.

“When we have somebody sitting in the service lounge waiting for their car, we’ll ask them to take a test drive for charity,” Thayer said. “And usually they’ll agree because it’s for a good cause.”

What’s more, what is particularly nice about the fundraising effort is in addition to the money, every test drive also nets the pledge of an hour’s community service, Thayer said.

More than 66,000 community service hours were pledged nationally last year, Thayer said.

“It’s a really nice program,” she said.