Matt Radecki and Chris Fiegl

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and many of us are inspired to show our thanks and gratitude in different ways. For Chris Fiegl and Matthew Radecki of Hometown Rent-to-Own in Salamanca, New York, they were inspired with the desire to pay-it-forward and give back to their community. Shortly after Fiegl and Radecki opened their business in 2014, a local customer’s home was destroyed by fire. The customer lost everything, and Fiegl and Radecki helped by replacing some items that were destroyed. That experience fueled the two to continue paying it forward.

The next year, they began their annual Thanksgiving Feast give away. Partnering with Sander’s Market, last year they gave away 150 Thanksgiving dinners with the trimmings. They expect to give at least 200 dinners at this year’s event.

“People are not required to be a customer of ours to participate,” Radecki said. “Everyone is welcome to attend!”

This year, they added on a drawing for $100 and $50 Visa gift cards. To publicize this annual event, a local radio station will be broadcasting from Hometown Rent-to-Own.

According to Radecki, a second store is in the works, and the tradition will continue at both locations.

“As we expand, we’re hoping the Thanksgiving event gets bigger and bigger every year – whether it’s two stores, three or four,” he added. “We want to give away 100 meals at every store location we open.”

Radecki is thankful to Randy Otander, a longtime RTO operator and APRO member, who not only helped the pair start their business, but also continues to be a mentor.

“He provides a wealth of knowledge about the rent-to-own industry,” Radecki shared. “It was Otander’s generosity and help that inspired us to not just be business owners in a community but to be part of the community.”

Hurricane season is in full-gear as the outskirts of Hurricane Dorian travels up the east coast inching toward Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Millions of people have already evacuated but for the rest, it is a waiting game.

“The center of Dorian is forecast to move near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning,” reports the National Hurricane Center.

With more than 625 rent-to-own stores along Florida and the Carolinas, we know the need for help may be critical. If you’re a rent-to-own employee or know someone who is that was affected by the storm, please notify the APRO offices at 800-204-2776 or We may be able to provide assistance to those who’s stores, homes, or livelihoods were affected. Application for disaster relief assistance may be made by clicking here now or click the “Apply Now” button at the bottom of the page.

The RTO [Relief to Our] Employee Disaster Relief Fund was established to help RTO employees recover from natural disasters. Since 2005, APRO members have contributed to the fund which has dispersed more than $425,000 to those affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires. Due to the unfortunate frequency of these natural disasters, we want to be proactive in helping the people and communities affected the most. Please click here to consider donating so that we can rebuild and respond to those hit by Hurricane Dorian.

Three-time APRO scholarship recipient and 2019 college graduate Trevor Dobbs

The APRO Education Foundation is now accepting applicants for its 2019 scholarship season. Now in its second decade, the program provides opportunities for rent-to-own professionals and their families to attend college. Trevor Dobbs, a three-time scholarship recipient, is not only a first-generation high school graduate but as of May 2019, he is a first-generation college graduate as well. While pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Missouri, Trevor filled his time in college with campus activities, study-abroad programs, and student government positions.

Currently, Trevor is a content writer for The Current newspaper, a marketing agent at the startup, ShiftSmart, and tutors online for Chegg Inc. Dobbs plans to pursue a graduate degree in public administration at Erasmus University, the top-ranked public administration program in the Netherlands, in the fall. The program incorporates elements of business, finance, economics, international relations, political science, and law.

Dobbs credits the APRO Education Foundation for helping him achieve his success thus far. “I would not have been able to make all of this happen without the help of APRO and the RTO community,” says Dobbs, son of Thomas Dobbs, who has worked for the industry for almost a decade.

Dobbs’ story is just one of the dozens that generous donations from the RTO community makes possible. For more than a decade, APRO’s Education Foundation has annually provided scholarships to rent-to-own professionals and their families and the time to apply is now. APRO members have contributed generously to the association’s Scholarship Fund – awarding 325 scholarships totaling $759,000 to date – to help students connected with RTO pursue their college degrees. The deadline to apply is this Friday at 5:00 p.m.

A destroyed apartment complex near Scott Kinnear’s Premier Rental-Purchase housing many of his customers.

Tornadoes tore through the Midwest over the last two weeks impacting metropolitan areas such as Dayton, Ohio. While the death toll from the EF4 tornado in Dayton showed a miraculous zero, the structural damage and physical destruction caused by the storm was devastating.

APRO member, former board member and owner of SRKinnear, Inc. dba Premier Rental-Purchase in Dayton, Ohio, Scott Kinnear, had his store touched with fortunately only minor damage while the nearby apartment complexes, home to many of his customers, were destroyed. These customers will likely relocate long-term due to no commitment to rebuild by the complex owners. “As I drove around bearing witness to the hardest hit communities in Dayton, all any of us here at Premier Rental-Purchase could do was be thankful that no one lost their life,” shares Kinnear.

Sadly, one of his employees, Antuan Thortan, was also affected, being displaced from his home. Thortan was able to recover some of his belongings and is now living with his girlfriend’s parents. Along with losing his home, he and many who experienced the same, have to miss work for a few days. FEMA and other local agencies are responding to immediate needs, but more can always be done.

While finding solace in these times with natural disasters is hard, the RTO Employee Disaster Relief Fund was established to help rent-to-own employees recover in these situations. Since 2005, APRO members have contributed to the fund which has dispersed more than $425,000 to those affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires. Due to the unfortunate frequency of these natural disasters, APRO’s membership is ready to help RTO employees at any time with its established RTO [Relief To Our] Employees Disaster Relief Fund.

If your company is an APRO member, and you or your employee(s) have been affected by a recent natural disaster, you might qualify for assistance. Click here to apply for assistance and APRO staff will contact you.

Rent One crew with donated $5,000 to CASA of Williamson County in part of its seventh annual Great Expectations Charity of Choice campaign.

St. Louis-based Rent One kicked off its seventh annual Great Expectations Charity of Choice campaign, once again providing philanthropic grant distributions to a variety of charities across the Midwest.

The annual charity event is driven by voluntary weekly payroll deductions from employees in Rent One’s approximately 100 stores across eleven regions, with pooled donations matched by corporate participation as well as contributions from Rent One’s Larry and Sharon Carrico. The Great Expectations Charity of Choice campaign collected more than $95,000 over the last year for distribution in 2019.

This year’s campaign received significant attention in the local press and news channels such as the Centralia Mt. Vernon Sentinel.

The Charity of Choice campaign will fund grants this year to fourteen charities, four of which are new recipients this year. Returning grant recipients include Camp We We Se Je, CASA of Jefferson County, CASA of Williamson County, Voices for Children, Challenger League Baseball, Boys and Girls Club of Poplar Bluff, River of Hope, Madison County Imagination Library, Shriners Hospitals for Children, and Our Little Haven. New donation recipients for 2019 include Kentucky State Police Trooper Island, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, Special Learning Center, and Whiz Kids Oklahoma.

The Charity of Choice campaign donations will be used to meet a variety of specific charitable needs, including camp scholarships; recruiting, training and supervising volunteers; expanding and improving facilities; and purchasing new equipment, books, and computers. Grants this year range from $5000 to $10,000 per charity.

This year’s Charity of Choice campaign received significant attention in the local press and news channels, including the Centralia Mt. Vernon Sentinel and the Jefferson City News Tribune.

David Harrison with Tammy Niederhelman of Carl Junction, MO.

 RNR Tire Express [RNR], the nation’s fastest-growing tire and custom wheel franchise, continued the tradition of its annual Mother’s Day car and tire giveaway in early May. Communities across the nation had the opportunity to nominate their own “superhero moms,” who have given all they have to motherhood, to be surprised with the ultimate gift – a free car, as part of the brand’s annual initiative. Selected from thousands of entries, RNR Tire Express honored superhero moms, Jennifer Wheeler in Tampa, FL, Tammy Niederhelman in Joplin, MO, and Carol Vangilder in Little Rock, AR, for their incredible sacrifices and kind hearts.

RNR recognized each mother at surprise reveal events at their local stores where nominating families presented their moms with the ultimate gifts – a free vehicle. The moms were presented with a Ford Fusion, and two Buick Encores. In addition to the national car giveaway, RNR franchisees across the nation teamed up to collectively give away 25 sets of tires to mothers recognized as runners-up in the nationwide contest.

“I am so thankful for this honor.” says Wheeler. “This Ford Fusion will help tremendously, with myself and my family and what I do to help others in the community. There are so many opportunities to help people and this is definitely going to help me do it!”

Carol Vangilder in Little Rock, AR, receives her new car.

The Mother’s Day car giveaway initiative was started by APRO Second Vice President David Harrison, a partner in Rental Concepts, an RNR Franchise Group with stores in AR, LA, TX, OK and MO in honor of his own mother. David saw her struggle as she raised four children on her own, working endlessly to provide for her family. Harrison reached a point in his life where he could repay his mother by gifting her a new car. The magnitude of her gratitude and happiness lit a flame in Harrison’s heart, which has inspired the national annual giveaway – one that will continue to help deserving moms around the nation for years to come.

At RNR, we value philanthropy and giving back. As David, I too was raised by a hardworking, single mom who gave all she had to provide a good life for her and her children.  It’s an honor to positively impact the lives of the hardworking moms across the nation,” says Larry Sutton, founder and president of RNR Tire Express. “Mothers give everything they have to support their children and unfortunately, the world sometimes repays them with harsh life challenges and roadblocks. We are happy to play a role in making a difference in Jennifer’s life to alleviate stresses in a small, but impactful way – with a safe form of transportation and a sign of hope.”

For more information about RNR Tire Express, please visit

2018 APRO scholarship recipient Cody McSwain

The APRO Education Foundation is now accepting applicants for its 2019 scholarship season. Now in its second decade, the program provides opportunities for rent-to-own professionals and their families to attend college. Cody McSwain, a student-athlete pursuing a degree in biology at Freed Hardeman University is an example of the nearly 400 hard-working students that the program has sponsored over the last decade.

McSwain, a first generation college student, balances his demanding studies with the rigorous schedule of the Freed Hardeman Lions baseball program. He plans to graduate in 2020 with a degree in biology, and is currently weighing whether to pursue a career as a physician or a forensic examiner.

Growing up, McSwain and his sister were encouraged by their parents to pursue a college education. While money was always tight, McSwain’s parents were able to provide their children with the tools needed to succeed. Household items, and even the cost of tires for their children’s cars came through opportunities provided by the RTO industry.

Although McSwain maintains a demanding schedule as a full time student and athlete, he dedicates what free time he has available to giving back to his community. He is a frequent participant in fundraising activities for charitable causes at Freed Hardeman University, and works in the Freed Hardeman baseball program’s Champions of Character program as a mentor to local school age children. In the summer McSwain is a frequent sight behind the plate at Little League baseball games, umpiring for games as a volunteer.

McSwain’s story is just one of the dozens that generous donations from the RTO community makes possible. Each year, the APRO Scholarship Foundation is able to provide students like McSwain the resources they need to take ownership of their futures thanks to your continued support. We hope that you will take a moment to support the next generation of leaders from our RTO-family with a generous gift to our program. Thank you!

Jefferson County Mentor Program leadership David Keen, Judge David K. Overstreet, Safe Families Executive Director Christine Taulbee, CASA Executive Director Brenda Torres and CASA Child Advocate Sharon Terry

APRO Hall of Honor recipient David Keen’s, Rent One Public Relations Director, 15-year affiliation with the Mentors 4 Kids program in Southern Illinois recently came to an end as the organization lost its funding for the region. Keen and several prominent individuals and organizations are coming together to reach out to the community for assistance in helping the youth in the area by filling the void with the newly formed Jefferson County Mentor Program.

“There are a lot of needs for both foster kids and to mentor,” says Keen, former Mt. Vernon mayor, and program organizer. “A lot of kids go to school and come home to see their parents doing drugs or going through some type of violence, or they don’t have food. They don’t know a normal life.”

A breakfast to discuss the program and various community needs will be held from 7:30-8:30 a.m. April 8 at Rare Chop House in Mt. Vernon, IL. Speakers at the event will include Jefferson County Presiding Judge Jo Beth Weber, Illinois Appellate Court Justice David K. Overstreet, and APRO scholarship recipient Javontay Moss, who grew up being mentored by Keen since he was five.

“The program allowed me to have a positive male influence in my life that I didn’t have before,” shares Moss who currently attends the University of Southern Indiana and is studying communications and social services. “It has had a direct influence on where I am now.”

The new program will adopt many procedures and framework that the former Mentors 4 Kids organization had but with a focus directly on the youth of Jefferson County. The new program is seeking mentors to take some time every week to help guide children who need a positive influence in their life. Information on how the community can be involved with various agencies will be at the event and will include Angel’s Cove, CASA, Safe Families for Children and Spero Family Services.

“We know there is an absolute need for this program,” says Keen. “We are initiating this meeting to formulate a plan and get the ball rolling.”

The presentation of the home to Valencia and her family was the 169th by Warrick Dunn Charities’ (WDC) HFTH program.

Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled the new home of a single mom and her four sons with furniture, electronics, and appliances as a surprise in Augusta, GA. This wish come true was part of Aaron’s partnership with the Warrick Dunn Charities (WDC) Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) program, sponsored by former NFL star Warrick Dunn. The WDC HFTH program helps single parents become first-time homeowners.

Additional partnerships with the City of Augusta’s Homeownership Assistance Program, Peach State Federal Credit Union (FCU), and Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia helped provide Valencia and her family with a new, fully furnished home.

Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled the new home of a single mom and her four sons with furniture, electronics, and appliances as a surprise in Augusta, GA.

“Aaron’s is grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Warrick Dunn Charities to provide a deserving Augusta family a safe place to call home,” says John Robinson, CEO of Aaron’s, Inc. “We have a longstanding tradition of giving back to communities across the country and we’re so pleased that these furnishings will be able to help make a difference for this family in their lives for years to come.”

Valencia works as an educator and strives to equip her children with skills that reach far beyond the classroom. She serves as an influential role model for her students in school and for her family at home.

Aaron’s has been a longtime supporter of WDC initiatives and has contributed home furnishings, appliances, and electronics to the Homes for the Holidays program for the past 16 years.

2018 APRO scholarship recipient Lillian Snyder

Lillian Snyder is involved with community activities inside her high school community and the greater community. “Someone once told me to make the most of high school because it’s free,” says Snyder, a member of both the National Honor Society and an officer in the Hispanic Honors Society. The incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida was a leader improving her school community by tutoring other students in Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus; working as part of a school beautification team and organizing food drives for events ranging from natural disasters to the holiday season.

Outside of her school, Snyder supports her local community in a bevy of roles, working with Rise Against Hunger, the Special Olympics Bowling tournament, the local library, and Save-A-Pet Rescue. Snyder appreciates the joy these activities bring, while also being cognizant of the fact that these activities are learning opportunities. For example, Snyder’s work with her local library’s “Soundsational Storytime” interactive program has provided her with direct experience dealing with young children and the importance of patience in dealing with them.

The RTO-industry figures prominently in enabling Snyder to be such an important member of her local community. “My mother was able to continue going to college, and my grandparents were able to continue to take care of me,” explains Snyder, the daughter of a single mother. The financial challenges facing her family from a young age have underlined the importance of the RTO-industry in providing opportunities for struggling families to acquire basic household appliances that provide the breathing room to seek new opportunities. RTO continues to play a vital role in Snyder’s development, with the APRO scholarship assisting in Snyder’s college education.

Snyder is a member of the 2018 cohort receiving funding from the APRO Education Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. She is among a group of 47 students given over $110,000 worth from APRO and state rental dealer associations in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. The APRO Education Foundation Scholarship Fund’s mission of helping futures leaders take ownership of their dreams is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you will take a moment to support the next group of emerging leaders from our RTO-family by donating today.