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Test drives, toy drives

Toys for Tots: John Woleben, right, and Eley Duke of Duke Automotive, stand in front of a van that Duke has loaned to Woleben for the next couple of weeks so he can pick up and deliver the toys that are collected around the area for Suffolk’s Toys for Tots program.

Suffolk’s car dealers collect toys, cash

Suffolk’s three biggest car dealerships usually compete against each other, but this December they’re all working toward a common goal.

Each of them — Duke Automotive, Mike Duman Auto Sales and Starr Motors — is coordinating a toy drive and money collections for Toys for Tots and the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund.

In addition, Duke Automotive lent a large van to local Toys for Tots coordinator John Woleben for him to use while collecting toys from various drop-off locations.

“We’re just lending the van to them to use for two weeks to go around and pick up toys,” said Eley Duke, vice president of Duke Automotive. “Last year, he had a vehicle that wasn’t all that big.”

Grafik Trenz donated temporary decals for the van featuring the Toys for Tots logo prominently on the side.

“It’s just a good thing,” Duke said. “Every little kid needs to have that smile on their face on Christmas morning.”

Duke also is filling the bed of a Chevrolet Silverado in his showroom with toys. In addition, the dealership always makes a donation to the Cheer Fund, he said.

“Hopefully people bring a new, unwrapped toy so every kid can have something on Christmas Day,” Duke said.

Next door at Mike Duman Auto Sales, Duman will be giving a donation to the Cheer Fund, as well as encouraging his employees to make donations. In addition, his Suffolk and Carrollton stores will collect donations for Toys for Tots.

He’s also promoting adoptions from Suffolk Animal Control this month. People who adopt from the shelter this month can bring proof of adoption to the dealership before the end of December and receive a $50 rebate.

At Starr Motors, Chrysler will donate $100 to Toys for Tots for every Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan or Dodge Journey purchased between now and Christmas. The money will be donated to the local Toys for Tots, so it stays in the area, sales manager Darrell Mayo said.

The car manufacturer added a $750 bonus rebate to those vehicles to entice people to buy. In addition, dealership owners Charles White and sons Eddie and Clay White will make an additional $5 donation for everyone who comes in and test-drives a vehicle.

Starr Motors also will serve as a drop-off point for new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots.

“We’re trying to fill up two trucks with toys,” Mayo said.

Contact Duke Automotive at 319-4709. Contact Mike Duman Auto Sales at 539-1699. Contact Starr Motors at 539-0214.