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Local car dealership partners with school system

Southtown Hyundai has been selling cars to residents in Riverdale for 25 years. To show its appreciation to the city for such long-running support, employees at the dealership decided to look for ways to give back to the community.

Kameron Stevenson, community relations specialist for the dealership, said the business wanted to initiate several programs geared to motivating and inspiring school students to achieve academically.

Southtown Hyundai’s General Manager Perry Weldon said he was on board as soon as Stevenson presented to him, the idea of making education and the school system the focal point of the dealership’s philanthropic efforts.

“I love it,” he said, “We sell a lot of cars in Riverdale –– so we need to give back to the community.”

Weldon said he has been employed at the dealership for the last 20 years, and in the past, the company had contributed to the schools, but in the last 3 years, had drifted away, because of budget cuts and the loss of public transportation.

“There’s no excuses for it,” he said, “we just fell to the wayside. But we’re happy [Stevenson] is on board.”

Stevenson –– with the support of his fellow employees –– reached out to the Clayton County School System to launch a “student of the month competition” that, he said, will be in full swing by the beginning of next year.

The competition, Stevenson said, will also be a way of tackling literacy among youths. “We want to motive young people to read,” he said. “The earlier our children begin to read, the easier it’s going to be for them to make the adjustment down the line in life.”

Stevenson said the “student of the month competition” will be broken into two categories: One will be based upon how much the student is reading, and the second will focus on “the most improved student.”

“For the most improved,” he said, “not all students are going to be A and B students –– so this will be based upon attitude.”

Stevenson said the dealership will select five schools per month, and will reward two students from the schools, in each of the two categories. He did not specify what the award will be, or whether that has been decided yet.

The dealership, he said, has been building relationships with school principals, and they will be the ones responsible for selecting the students as recipients of the awards.

“We have had a rapport with the principals [at these schools] for a long time –– for, like, the last 10 years,” he said.

He said Hyundai already teased a few schools, this year, with something similar, including Riverdale Elementary School, Church Street Elementary School, and Pointe South Middle School.

He added that another aspect of the program is that the dealership will sponsor one family from each school and treat them to lunch or dinner. He said the money to support the program will come from the dealership’s advertising budget.

Weldon said he is looking forward to this new venture with the school system. “We like to reach out to the community, and we do as much as we can,” he said.