Post via GATHER

Portsmouth Ford’s support of Gather started in 2014 with a small cardboard box in the dealership’s show room. Both employees and customers would bring in food and drop it in the box. When it was full, it would be delivered to Gather’s pantry on West Road. After a while, that box got bigger; the giving got bigger.

“It grew from a little box to the back of a pickup truck to a full cargo van filled to roof,” says Portsmouth Ford owner Chris Sawyer.

But it didn’t stop there. After learning about Gather’s gleaning program a few years ago, Chris took the step of not just donating food but providing a means to collect it through the gift of a pickup truck.

“We found out they didn’t have enough vehicles to collect food donations from around the area and got thinking about how we could help,” says Chris, who also owns Portsmouth Used Car Center. “It just seemed like the thing to do.”

His father started Portsmouth Ford. Chris says he grew up watching him and other dealers giving back to the community. Now the dealership does a food drive every year. Customers add to the effort, bringing in bags of groceries. Even those who don’t end up buying a car have been known to come back with food to donate, Chris says. He notes his penchant for giving was further inspired by a dealer in Maryland that he became close with.

“Their entire structure is based on giving back to the community. That gave me the incentive to get involved. A lot of people donate during the holidays but it’s important to give year-round. It’s incredible how much food Gather gives away,” Chris says, adding that his accounting office is across the street from the food pantry. “We see the lines of people waiting to get food.”

His latest gift comes in the form of providing parking for Gather’s refrigerated Fresh Food Bus that brings fresh food to smaller sites. When it’s not on the road, the bus is parked across from the pantry.

“Anything we can do to help,” Chris says of providing the parking spot. “It’s amazing how many people are in need. Gather is a great organization. We’re just happy to do what we can.”