WNY Ford Dealers Select Three Nonprofits to Join Ford Friendship Program

July 23, 2011 Updated Jul 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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WNY Ford Dealers Select Three Nonprofits to Join Ford Friendship Program

July 23, 2011 Updated Jul 23, 2011 at 1:39 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The Boys and Girls Club of Eden, Be-A-Friend Program, Inc./Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, and Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services joined more than 60 nonprofit organizations over the last 16 years to receive the keys to a new Ford passenger van, compliments of the Western New York Ford Dealers’ Ford Friendship Express Program.

“Handing over the van keys to nonprofit organizations that provide such tremendous and necessary services in our community is a great honor,” said Scott Bieler, chairman, Ford Friendship Express selection committee. “After 16 years, the Western New York Ford Dealers are proud to keep the Ford Friendship Express tradition alive.”

Buffalo Mayor Bryon W. Brown on Friday helped the WNY Ford Dealers award the keys to the Ford Friendship Express van recipients.

“The City of Buffalo is happy to partner with WNY Ford Dealers for the Ford Friendship Express program,” said Brown. “For the last sixteen years, the WNY Ford Dealers have provided vehicles to local nonprofit organizations. I thank them for their generosity. The donations have been very helpful to several charitable organizations in Buffalo.”

Along with the keys, nearly 50 kids and adults, representing the three 2011 Ford Friendship Express van recipient organizations will be treated to an on-field, pre-game ceremony, cameo appearances on the ballpark’s HD video screen, and of course, a baseball game at Coca-Cola Field, as the Buffalo Bisons face off against the Pawtucket Red Sox at the popular Friday Night Bash.

“Thanks to the Western New York Ford Dealers, we were able to treat the kids in our program to a day full of fun and education,” said Chad Marczewski, program director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Eden. “We showed our kids what happens when a local business steps up to the plate to help those in need. Next year, we will be able to provide even more children with the transportation they need to get to and from summer camp and daily activities.”

Since its inception in 1996, the Ford Friendship Express program has donated vans to more than 60 organizations, valued at more than $1 million.

“A trip to Coca-Cola Field, and an invitation to walk on the field, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our program recipients,” said Katharine Kirchmeyer, coordinator of billing and data services, Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services. “The Western New York Ford Dealers provided a little extra something to members of our community who truly deserve it.”

Be-A-Friend Program, Inc./Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County’s Development Director, Thomas J. Guagliardo added: “We are thankful for our new Ford Flex and a trip to the ballpark. The Western New York Ford Dealers definitely put some smiles on the faces of our members today.”

Last year, the WNY Ford Dealers highlighted the success of the Ford Friendship Express program when they invited past recipients to a celebration picnic. During the event, the Ford Dealers also revealed that the program has “driven” local nonprofits more than 1.2 million miles combined over the previous 15 years.

Past Ford Friendship Express van recipients include: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns and Homespace Inc., Boys & Girls Club of Orchard Park, Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora, The Buffalo Zoo, Camp Good Days & Special Times, Food Bank of WNY, Foodlink, Friends of Night People, Goodwill Industries of WNY, Inc., Hickok Center for Brain Injury, Meals on Wheels Foundation, Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club, Niagara Hospice, Rural Transit Services, SABAH, YMCA Buffalo Niagara and more.