span,First Student employees deliv- ered approximately two fully-load- ed, tractor-trailers with a cargo of 10,000 bottles of water throughout the greater Flint community. Chris Schoemann, First Student location manager for Flint Commu- nity Schools, said that everyone at company locations in the area seem- ingly had the same idea at the same time. “We held a conference call to determine a course of action and to touch base on what each location could do to raise awareness,” he said. “Te support we received from First Student and from around the coun- try has been truly heartwarming for the schools and the communities.” Tat same light bulb lit up at Tomas Built Buses headquarters in High Point, North Carolina. Staff there stocked several school buses with bottled water and drove them to the embattled Flint community. Caley Edgerly, president and CEO at Tomas, said community outreach is more than a corporate initiative. “Assisting those in need is something our entire workforce takes very seri- ously,” he said. “Our employees and dealer network always go above and beyond to give back to the commu- nity, and they continue to amaze us time and time again.” Across the country members of the school bus industry and their vendors are stepping up when there is a demonstrated need in the com- munities they serve. Tese initia- tives have such names as corporate responsibility, community engage- ment, community involvement and corporate and community outreach. Many companies have long-stand- ing, structured programs that provide everything from scholarships to support for local charities. Organizations like Habitat for

Humanity, food banks, homeless shelters, handicapped groups, schools, veteran’s groups, children’s cancer and leukemia groups, the Special Olympics, Salvation Army, Goodwill, and countless local civic and charitable groups benefit from

the corporate largesse of these companies. And they also encourage their employees to be proactive and get involved. For seven consecutive years school bus contractor Durham School Ser- vices has been recognized as the top corporate sales team for the Special Olympics Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby. Last year, Durham sold 3,312 rubber ducks that raised $14,094 for Special Olympics Illinois. “Supporting Special Olympics is our top philanthropic effort, and our team embraces this group’s mission wholeheartedly,” said Carina Noble, vice president of communications and external affairs. “Tere are over 180 team members in our corpo- rate offices, and nearly every one supports Special Olympics, whether by volunteering, making a monetary donation, purchasing rubber duckies or by attending our annual summer fundraising event in the parking lot.” Blue Bird is another long-time

supporter of its local community in Fort Valley, Georgia, delivering non- denominational, faith-based com- munity support for years. Beneficia- ries of Blue Bird’s corporate social responsibility include seriously or terminally ill children, breast cancer survivors and their families, and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Spearheading many of these efforts is Blue Bird company Chaplain Jay Jones. “Blue Bird believes there is a strong obliga- tion for bus manufacturers to have a community presence,” he said. “When people think about Blue Bird, they think about community and family because we at Blue Bird are about family and community.”

CREATIVE GIVING Some companies take very cre-

ative approaches to their community outreach programs. Navistar received the 2010 Community Service Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for implementing a program that allows employees at the company’s Alabama diesel plant to volunteer with local organizations

32 School Transportation News • JUNE 2016 Jamming For a Cause

The $10,000 donated by Student Transporta- tion, Inc. to the Emanuel AME Church’s Moving Forward Fund after last year’s tragic mass shooting was part of the proceeds from an an- nual charitable event co-founded by STI’s Denis Gallagher, the company’s CEO and chairman of the board, with NASCAR and reigning Daytona 500 Champion Denny Hamlin. Along with Mark Bryan, Grammy Award-winning lead guitarist and founding member of the rock group Hootie & the Blowfish, they started Denny & Mark’s Pro-Am Jam, a two-day music and golf charity event that combines golf, music, racing, enter- tainment and sports.

STI’s Denis Gallagher, right, sings onstage with Mark Bryan of Hootie & the Blowfish.

Doug Coupe, director of communications and investor relations for STI, said that bus manufacturers Blue Bird, IC Bus, Thomas Built Buses and Collins Bus have all supported the annual fundraiser, which has raised more than $700,000 over the years. “The bus companies have been great support- ers along with our other vendors,” Coupe said. “However, the event wouldn’t be what it is without the bus manufacturers.” Thomas Built Buses President and CEO Caley Edgerly said that it doesn’t matter what size a company is, community involvement is crucial. “It’s important for every company to have a community outreach presence, whether they are a school bus manufacturer, supplier, vendor or even a mom and pop shop,” Edgerly said. “It’s important that we give back to the communities that have given so much to us. It’s the right thing to do.”

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