Aaron’s and Progressive Leasing recently filled two new homes with furniture, electronics and appliances as a holiday surprise for two single moms in Atlanta and Nashville. This holiday 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.
In Nashville, additional partnerships with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville helped provide single mother Carrie and her five sons with a new, fully furnished home for the holidays. In Atlanta, Ronyelle and her 5-year-old son were surprised with furnishings and gifts for their home just in time to celebrate Christmas, thanks to the combined efforts of Aaron’s, WDC and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.
“Aaron’s is thrilled to be working alongside Warrick Dunn, Marcus Mariota and Habitat for Humanity to provide these families with this surprise during one of the most joyous times of the year,” says Aaron’s, Inc. CEO John Robinson. “Carrie and Ronyelle work hard to provide the best for their children; it’s humbling to be a part of providing safe, modern and inviting homes they and their families can truly call their own.”
Carrie works as a forklift operator for a Nashville logistics company, and has long dreamt of having a safe home with enough room for her five boys to grow and aspire to promising futures. Ronyelle worked throughout her pregnancy while earning her medical assistant’s degree in Atlanta; her dream was to offer her son a safe and inspirational environment.
“Carrie’s and Ronyelle’s commitments as single parents – to provide their children with the lives they deserve – make them admirable recipients for our Homes for the Holidays program,” says Warrick Dunn. “I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside Aaron’s to bring holiday magic to these commendable and hardworking families.”
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 15 years.
Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and this holiday season, Ohio-based Countryside Rentals, dba Rent-2-Own [R2O] is lending a hand. APRO Member R2O hosted a virtual holiday wish list on its website, where visitors submitted all they wanted, with no limitations. The company received more than 2,500 submissions from customers throughout Kentucky and Ohio, and yesterday, 34 wishes were granted – one for each of R2O’s store locations.
“Reading through the submissions was incredibly humbling, knowing we were going to grant families their holiday wishes,” says Mike Tissot. R2O CEO and President. Examples of those granted wishes included the following:
- Michelle Yerian, Manager of R2O Cambridge, OH, presented a longtime customer with a new set of tires. “When we told her, Maggie cried, and so did we!” Yerian says. “She takes care of her grandchildren and rarely does anything for herself. We’re so happy and excited for her!”
- Over in Amelia, OH, R2O Manager Brad Matthews, gave a customer a laptop for her autistic son, whose computer had been stolen from his backpack. “When we called Stacy, she cried and just thanked us over and over again,” says Matthews. “Knowing we made a difference simply by providing a laptop computer was incredibly rewarding.”
- R2O’s Zanesville, OH, store gave a 40” TV to a family who had to start over after losing everything. In Grayson, KY, a dining room table was offered to a family who had never had a table big enough for everyone to come together for a holiday meal. And R2O Flemingsburg, KY, presented a cash gift of $250 to a customer whose family is suffering through tough times following her husband’s involvement in a semi-truck accident.
Everyone at R2O’s holiday workshop was overjoyed to help make a positive difference for their customers, especially at this special time of year. “A wish is just a wish until someone grants it,” Tissot concludes. “During the holidays, it takes all of us to help those in need and make a holiday wish come true.”
Pennsylvania-based Majik Rent To Own recently held an employee-driven effort to support their city through donations to the Extraordinary Give. The Extraordinary Give is a one-day virtual fundraising event designed to support community causes, such as health care, education, housing and more. This year, Majik owner Dan Fisher offered his employees the opportunity to participate by either using their “You Earned It” employee rewards program points, or deducting from their paychecks to contribute. Majik pledged to match every employee donation times four; at the end of day, the company had contributed a total of more than $7,000.
“While I have my own charitable causes that I support privately, I really love this type of an event because it allows our co-workers to select their charity of choice and it amplifies their giving,” Fisher shares. “It made them feel good, and made me feel terrifically proud to lead such a group of giving people.”
For years, Majik has included a donation option in its “You Earned It” rewards program, so employees can support charitable causes, such as disaster relief or various nonprofits, and Majik matches whatever amount they donate. This year, employees could also opt to contribute a cash amount deducted from their upcoming paycheck. “I was really proud so many of our co-workers donated their hard-earned rewards points and pay to such a great cause,” affirms Fisher.
APRO Members PTS Financial Services and Buddy’s Home Furnishings recently partnered to contribute $5,000 to the American Legion of Panama City, FL, in the wake of the town’s devastation from Hurricane Michael. PTS Financial’s John Blair and Tony Farrell, along with Buddy’s James Bond, Joe Gazzo and Mike Zajar, toured the area before presenting their donation – which will be used to help veterans displaced by the storm – to the organization’s officers. “Please help veterans and their families in this community,” requested Farrell as he presented the check to the American Legion Commander.
Just days prior, PTS Financial announced the launch of Operation Hire a Vet, a new initiative designed to encourage rent-to-own companies to fill open positions with qualified armed-service veterans.
Jess Fisher – a longtime APRO Member and owner of Kansas-based Mustang Enterprises Inc., dba Hometown Sales Lease – is probably feeling some fatherly pride as his daughter, Michelle Mason Rudolph, pays it forward this holiday season with Treats for the Troops.
Inspired by her two sons, deployed to Turkey and Romania, Michelle created this nonprofit, dedicated to delivering a taste of home via baked goods to soldiers around the world, in 2017. Over the past year-and-a-half, many good community samaritans have joined the cause to contribute flour, sugar, baking supplies, and funding to help cover shipping costs. Generous donations from Advertising Images, Arkansas City, Hometown Rental Purchase, NCTV, and West Kansas Avenue Church of God have helped keep Michelle’s vision moving forward. Elementary-school students have written cards and letters to include in packages, and the Jobs for America’s Graduates program at Augusta High School is helping in the kitchen. The organization won the 2017 Pay It Forward Award, along with a $500 cash prize, for its work.
Last year, Treats for the Troops made more than 3,000 baked goods, and shipped more than 40 boxes over Thanksgiving and Christmas – at a shipping fee of more than $650. This year, the organization has a recipient list of 25 deployed soldiers, and the list continues to grow. If you want to nominate a soldier to receive a goodie box, just click here, or to learn more about Treat for Troops, visit their Facebook Group, Treats for the Troops No-profit, or feel free to contact Michelle Rudolph at email@example.com.
To contribute to Treat for the Troops, just click here, or mail a check payable to Michelle Rudolph to Hometown Sales Lease, 600 N. Walnut, Augusta, KS 67010.
APRO Member Hometown Rent To Own will be giving out free Thanksgiving Feasts – the fixings for 150 – 200 full holiday meals – to local families in need. The event, scheduled for this Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hometown store in Salamanca, NY, is open to the public. Participants may choose the foods they want, including mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, stuffing and dinner rolls. Participants will also be given a gift card to Sander’s Markets Parkview, where they can pick up a turkey.
This is the third year Hometown has held this event as a thank-you for its supportive community. Co-owners Christopher Fiegl and Matthew Radecki founded the company four years ago, and Salamanca has helped the business flourish.
“We just want to give back to the community that has done so much for us and made us an overnight success,” says Radecki. “From the time we got the keys and filled up with inventory, we have literally had a line of customers out the door. Thanks to Salamanca, we knew our business was going to work from the very first year.”
Local radio station MIX 101.5 FM will host a live broadcast as the company distributes the Feasts from their storefront and holds several other giveaways during the event.
“The holiday season is especially hard for many people who just can’t afford a big to-do, so we like to help bring families together each year with this event,” Radecki shares. “Last year was a great success, and we hope to keep it growing every year to help more and more people within our community.”
APRO associate member High Touch Technologies served as the presenting sponsor of the highly successful tenth annual gala for Envision, an integrated community of people who are blind, low-vision and atypically sighted. The gala, Evening with Envision: Fusion! Destination for the Senses, was held October 27th in Wichita, and delivered a night of fun, food, and fine entertainment.
The gala, Envision’s largest fundraising event of the year, featured High Touch President and CEO, Wayne Chambers, as a guest speaker, which raised more than $372,000 to support Envision’s mission – to improve the quality of life, and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research.
Additional speakers at the event included Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante, Blind Chef and Master Chef Season 3 Winner Christine Ha, and former High Touch Technologies Intern Andrew McCleod.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, RNR Tire Express (RNR) announced an initiative to celebrate inspiring breast-cancer survivors or fighters. Throughout October, family members and friends are invited to nominate breast-cancer survivors or fighters for the chance to win a new set of tires, a $1,000 cash prize, and a VIP spa day to honor their strength and courage.
RNR is encouraging families and friends at its 116 stores in 22 states to share inspiring survivor/fighter stories at www.RNRtires.com/pink. Nominees must be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. The deadline for nominations is midnight on Sunday, October 28; winners will be contacted on Wednesday, October 31.
“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer within her lifetime,” says Larry Sutton, RNR Founder and President. “And due to the disease’s prominence, most people know someone affected by it in some way. At RNR, giving back is at the core of who we are as a brand, and we’re happy to have the chance to give back to those who have given and lost so much to breast cancer.”
In addition to the giveaway, RNR is collecting donations at each of its corporate-owned stores throughout October, and will use them to make a cash donation to a local breast-cancer awareness organization in Florida, the home state of RNR’s headquarters.
For more information regarding the RNR breast-cancer awareness initiative, please visit www.RNRtires.com/pink.
APRO Members Larry and Sharron Carrico of Rent One recently donated $5,000 to Kingdom Seeds Ministries (KSM) in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, benefitting local children through various programs emphasizing mentoring, leadership and worship. Through the Great Expectations Foundation, created by the Carrico’s, the donation helped cover expenses for a recent camp run by KSM in June, which included chapel services, laser tag, bounce houses, arts and crafts and other activities.
The Great Expectations Foundation was created by the Carrico’s to enhance the lives of children throughout the Midwest, and several local charities were awarded grants this year through Rent One and the foundation, including KSM, CASA of Jefferson County, Angels’ Cove and the United Way of South Central Illinois.
APRO member and Rent One Development Director David Keen shares that employees from the company’s 85 stores in 11 regions select which charities to give to, and then Rent One and the foundation match those donations. “If [an employee] were to give a dollar, then Rent One matches a dollar and Larry and Sharon matches a dollar so it’s actually a three-for-one match,” says Keen. “So we give out hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout the Midwest pretty much.”
Carrico says one of the unique aspects about this grant program is that employees choose the charities and communities they want their donations to go to, “It’s driven by people in the communities so the co-workers feel they’re a part of it.”
Keen added that KSM was selected in particular because of the impact they have on the community and the nature of their organization.
“We’re just very proud that we were able to donate,” says Keen. “They’re a fantastic organization and when our board met and read their application, we immediately decided to do that.”
Rent One’s community donation was recognized by local newspaper, the Morning Sentinel.
More than 2,000 teens from across the country gathered in Atlanta on June 23 and 24 for the Boys and Girls Club of America’s 51st Annual Keystone Conference, sponsored by Aaron’s, Inc. The conference builds leadership skills, increase awareness and appreciation of diversity and helps establish positive relationships with their peers from around the globe.
“Aaron’s is proud of our national multi-year partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and we’re so pleased that this year’s national Keystone Conference was held in our hometown of Atlanta,” says Aaron’s CEO John Robinson. “These teens are making an amazing impact through their community projects that advocate change. We’re so honored to support and help them achieve their personal goals and their Keystone Club outreach projects to ignite change in their communities.”
Teens participated in break-out sessions that focused on discovering their passion, voicing their concerns about their communities, and taking action where they feel change is needed at the three-day event.
In 2015, the Aaron’s Foundation, Inc. announced a three-year, $5 million national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Keystone Program, helping teens develop their character and leadership skills in hopes of helping them reach their potential and creating positive change in the community. Keystone Club teen centers provide members ages 14 to 18 an environment to plan and participate in activities that focus on community service, academic success, career preparation and teen outreach.