Columbia Gorge Toyota Steps Up to Save City Cleanup Project

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When employees at Columbia Gorge Toyota in Oregon found out the city of Dalles lost a major resource for its cleanup project, they knew it was time to act

Columbia Gorge Toyota Steps Up to Save City Cleanup Project

WE GOT THIS
Rachel Carter (Columbia Gorge Toyota), Connie Krummrich (the Dalles Beautification Committee) pick up trash, along with volunteers Karren Murray and Julie Ryan.

Rachel Carter, the marketing coordinator for Columbia Gorge Toyota, had been working with the city for a while when she heard that the organization that led the city cleanup project for about a year was not renewing its contract. The Dalles Beautification Committee wanted to continue the monthly clean-ups but didn’t have the resources to do it. 
 
That’s when she and General Manager Aaron Carter stepped up. Last fall, Columbia Gorge Toyota began cohosting the cleanup events, which take place on the second Saturday of each month (with a three-month hiatus in the winter), in partnership with the Dalles Beautification Committee.
 
They also invite other organizations to co-host with them — for instance, a private school, the city council, a real estate company, the Lions Club — and that’s helped boost attendance. Rachel Carter estimates that about 40 people helped during the most recent cleanup event.
 
The dealership provides safety equipment and uses its trucks to haul away trash. The Transfer Station takes the first two loads of trash for free but the dealership pays any additional fees. Aaron Carter says the benefits of these community events far outweigh the small monetary cost. For him, it’s a family effort. His kids and the dealership dog — a yellow lab named Lady, aka their “public relations pooch” — pitch in, too.
 
These events have also helped build rapport with the broader community.
 
“We have our trucks with our logos on it along the road, and so even for people who aren’t there, they see us out there, hauling loads of trash into the truck,” says Rachel Carter. “They’ll honk their horn and wave. It’s been a great way to show people what we hope to accomplish in the community.”
 
That visibility is already paying off. Last year was their first full year in business after acquiring the dealership about two years ago, and the Chamber of Commerce named them the 2020 Business of the Year. Aaron Carter partly attributes their award to the community cleanup efforts.
 
“We are really a community-focused business, and it is a way to let people know that,” he says.
 

FAMILY AFFAIR
Aaron Carter (Columbia Gorge Toyota) and daughter Molly Carter pick up trash during a community clean-up event.

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