Sweeney’s Operation Santa Raises $25,550

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown and the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley will split $25,550 raised during the holiday season by Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC.

Sweeney donated $50 per vehicle sold between Nov. 20 and Jan. 2 at its Chevrolet and Buick GMC dealerships through its annual Operation Santa campaign.

This is the fifth year Sweeney has conducted Operation Santa, said vice president Alexa Sweeney Blackann. Since its start, the campaign has raised more than $125,000.

“We’re proud of our 96-year history,” Blackann said. “We could not do that without the great community support. We feel as part of our culture it’s really important to give back.”

The two nonprofits will split the funds evenly.

“It’s going to help us to continue to expand our mission,” Germaine McAlpine, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown. “We want to continue to improve the lives of as many kids in the city of Youngstown as possible, and their investment helps us to do that.”

In addition to its center on the South Side, the club offers programming at three school sites it opened last September, McAlpine said. “We’re coming to them, for those kids who couldn’t come to us,” he said.

The Rescue Mission’s portion – $12,750 – will go directly toward the campaign to build a new shelter to replace the current one on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which is more than 85 years old, said President and CEO John Muckridge.

“It’s something that the mission leadership has been looking at since the ‘70s,” Muckridge said. The organization is about $1.24 million away from reaching its fundraising goal of $4.25 million. The goal is to get shovels in the ground this summer at the 17.5-acre site, bordered by Erie Street, East Delason and East Warren avenues and Interstate 680.

The mission is seeing increased need now, as it usually does with the colder weather this time of year, he acknowledged.

“We’re averaging about 135 folks a night right now, and about 32 of those 135 are children,” he said. Those children range in age from two days old to 17 years old.

The new shelter will have room for up to 200 residents, a section for social workers, offices, classrooms and a chapel.

The Sweeney dealerships conducted the campaign even as owners, employees and patrons dealt with damage at the Buick GMC store, 7997 Market St., caused by a storm Nov. 5. Sales operations at Buick GMC resumed Nov. 15 but service operations for the two dealerships remain consolidated at the Sweeney Chevrolet dealership across the street.

“The whole team really came together to serve the customers as best they could,” Blackann said.

“It’s going to be a long rebuilding process,” she continued. “We don’t have all the answers yet on what that will look like but we’re moving forward every day trying to do our best to take care of the customers.”

As ownership considers options, they are considering potential upgrades to the building, which was constructed in 1969, she said. “We’ve been able to rehab it several times, so it is a good time to look at what are the newest features in dealerships that could maybe serve the customers even better into the future.”

Pictured: Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown Executive Director Germaine McAlpine, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Vice President Alexa Sweeney Blackann and Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley President John Muckridge.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.