The Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach became more mobile this month when Bridgestone Americas provided the grant funds to purchase a new transportation van for the local youth organization.

“We’re grateful to Bridgestone for giving us the funds to be able to add to our fleet and impact more kids in this community,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach’s Vice President of Development and Marketing Kari Cho.

Long Beach is one of 12 Boys & Girls Clubs chapters to receive a new van as part of the Bridgestone Americas Driving Great Futures initiative. Bridgestone Corporation is the world’s largest tire and rubber company.

“This will strengthen the Club’s ability to serve our community’s young people, setting more kids and teens on path toward a great future,” said the chief executive officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach Don Rodriguez.

This is the first time the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach have received a van donation from Bridgestone.

“We’re honored to help expand opportunities for Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach to serve more area kids and teens than ever before,” said president of Bridgestone Retail Operations Marko Ibrahim. “We know that access to after-school activities and resources are fundamental to unlocking the full potential of our young people.”

Not only will this eight-passenger van be able to transport children from school to the clubs, it will give the club more options when it comes to field trips.

“We’ve been able to plan trips to Long Beach State University and Long Beach City College as well as Irvine,” Cho said. “It will also open up volunteer opportunities like beach cleanups and more work with the Long Beach Rescue Mission.”

“Many of these donations come from our customers too so it is really about neighborhoods and being local to provide for the community,” said Krister Terito the Area Manager for Bridgestone Americas.

The Bridgestone Driving Great Futures initiative has raised over $20 million for Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide since they established a national partnership in 2015, and Cho added that safe transportation is becoming more of a priority due to rising gang violence after COVID-19.

“For kids it’s getting scarier, especially for the neighborhoods our clubs are around,” she said. “So to be able to have a vehicle is a huge deal and one of the core reasons why we do this.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs transportation vehicles are driven by program leaders and drivers who will go through a DMV process and training.

“Besides remodeling the building, getting an actual physical vehicle is extremely difficult,” Cho said. “You don’t find many foundations or individuals who will fund something like this. We’re really grateful.”

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