By Tamas Mondovics

Thanks to the generous and caring spirit of one Bay area business, abused, neglected or abandoned children currently sheltered at A Kid’s Place in Brandon will be equipped with a variety of brand new school supplies as they return to school.

Elder Automotive Group, Elder Ford of Tampa and A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay, teamed up last month to make a difference in the form of a sizable back-to-school drive event featuring a ton of incentives, family fun, including some refreshments along with salad and breadsticks from Olive Garden.

By the end of the day, there was no doubt about the event’s success, which resulted in the collection of thousands of dollars in school supplies along with more than $2,500 raised for A Kid’s Place.

“The children at A Kid’s Place often arrive to the organization with only a garbage bag of belongings; sometimes less,” said Robert Elder, president and CEO of Elder Automotive Group, parent company of Elder Ford of Tampa. “As a father and member of this community, I believe that it is our obligation to support kids and help provide them with the tools they need to succeed.”

Each person who donated an item received $10 off any service at the dealership, as well as entry into a raffle to win a set of tires, full detail, window tint, gift card and more, but most importantly the satisfaction of knowing they are making a difference for youth in their community.

The dealership also promised to donate a backpack to A Kid’s Place for every test-drive of a new or pre-owned vehicle.

“Before I came to A Kid’s Place, I was ashamed that I didn’t have a backpack or stuff to put in it,” said 14-year-old Wynn. “Now, I go to school and I am just like everyone else.”

A Kid’s Place is a 60-bed facility for children who range from newborns to kids ready to age out of the foster care system at 18.

“We are thrilled that Elder Ford of Tampa is reaching out to its customers to help make sure the children at A Kid’s Place have school supplies,” said Samantha Mellen, development specialist at A Kid’s Place. “The community always comes through for our area’s foster children.”

To learn more about A Kid’s Place, visit www.akidsplacetb.org, or call 381-3839 For more information about Elder Ford of Tampa, visit www.elderfordoftampa.com.