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Dealership partners with youth football teams

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Efforts by Terry Cullen Southlake Chevrolet in Jonesboro are helping to make the season a little better for youth football teams and cheerleading squads at Rum Creek Park. The car dealership will soon donate $500 worth of equipment to the teams based at the park, and in December will raffle off a 2010 Chevy Equinox, with the proceeds of the raffle benefiting the teams.

According to Terry Cullen, owner of the dealership, the partnership with Rum Creek Park is part of the Chevy Youth Football Program, an effort by Chevrolet dealerships across the country to support youth football leagues. He said that for several years, Chevrolet dealerships have successfully conducted the Chevy Youth Baseball Program, and that this is the first year the program has been extended to football leagues.

"This is a grassroots program for dealers, like myself, to be involved in their community," Cullen said. "We've done it with baseball for several years. Basically, we take some of our advertising dollars to commit to youth programs. The nice thing about this is that 100 percent of this goes back to the leagues."

In September, at the start of the football season, Cullen provided the 15 youth football teams and five cheerleading squads based at Rum Creek Park with kits filled with equipment bags, water coolers, water bottles, clipboards, visors and T-shirts. In the next few weeks, Cullen will purchase $500 worth of extra equipment, based on a wish list provided by Clayton County Youth Sports Coordinator Willie James Turnipseed.

"He [Turnipseed] is preparing a wish list right now," Cullen said. "The money is ready to go."

Turnipseed said that the Clayton County Football League, overseen by the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, consists of 64 football teams and 20 cheerleading squads based at different park facilities. He said the donations by Cullen will help the teams and squads based at Rum Creek purchase items to help them in the next season.

"This wasn't the first time [Cullen has made donations to youth sports in Clayton]," said Turnipseed. "He donated some stuff to us during baseball season also. It [the donations] might be used for helmet racks to put helmets on or maybe a sled [for defensive practice]. It might be used for megaphones for cheerleaders. I feel like it is a big help."

Since September, according to Cullen, Terry Cullen Southlake Chevrolet has allowed the teams to sell $5 raffle tickets for a brand-new Chevy Equinox, one of the newest, mid-sized SUVs in Chevy's line of vehicles. Cullen said sales of raffle tickets for the drawing ended on Saturday and that the drawing for the vehicle will take place in December. Turnipseed said 2,000 tickets were distributed to Rum Creek football teams and cheerleading squads, but he did not know much money the teams raised.

"Budgets are being slashed," Cullen said. "The needs are so many. During a time now, when the economy is suffering, it is a time when people really need some help. I've been here for about 20 years and want to give back to the community."