Duke collects a truckload

Published 8:42 pm Monday, December 20, 2010

Lydia Duke and her son, Eley, both of Duke Automotive, show off the food and toys that fill the bed of a Silverado pickup truck in their dealership’s showroom.

Chevy’s Silverado pickup trucks are usually portrayed in commercials and other advertisements hauling dirt or towing heavy-duty equipment, crunching through gravel or a dirty jobsite to deliver bricks or firewood or something of the sort.

One Silverado will leave Suffolk today, though, with a load of a different sort.

Employees, customers and friends of Duke Automotive have filled the bed of a pickup in the showroom with canned goods and other food items to be donated to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, and the items are to be delivered today as part of a national program entitled “Chevy’s Giving More.”

Email newsletter signup

“It’s been a really great success,” said Eley Duke III, vice president of Duke Automotive.

Some customers have visited the dealership to take care of their automotive business, seen the drive that was being held and returned later with bags of food, Duke said. Even a competitor, Starr Motors, got into the spirit, sending an employee by with a donation.

But food isn’t the only thing that’s been piled into the bed and stuffed into the cab of the red pickup truck inside the Dike showroom during December. The company also has been collecting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots program.

Suffolk’s Toys for Tots coordinator, John Woleben, picked up nine plastic bags full of toys from the dealership last week, Duke said, and on Monday there were already enough new toys to fill the truck’s cab, with another hundred or so in a box in the dealership’s service department.

Duke sent emails to more than 8,000 clients and regularly updated its Facebook page to remind folks about the toy and food drives. Customers and employees, alike, he said, have been eager to help him meet his goal of filling one truck bed with toys and another with food.

But he’s already got big plans for next year.

“I’d like to fill this showroom up with toys,” he said Monday. “That would be awesome.”