It doesn’t sound like something an auto lender’s employees would do on a regular work day.
But there they were, Santander Consumer USA (SC) Associates painting murals, wooden fences and flower pots and planting flowers at J.P. Starks Elementary School in Dallas recently.
“It’s just a great opportunity to be here to give back,” said Brandon D., who once attended the school, and was one of 50 volunteers who used volunteer paid time off to help with the projects.
“You never want to forget where you come from,” he said. “Then you see the smiles on these children’s faces when you come in, and they can relate to you, and they see this person came from where I grew up, and he’s in a better place right now.”
Starks is among the schools supported by Santander Consumer USA Foundation through a national grant to the CityYear program comprising volunteers who tutor students who need help.
Before the work started, the volunteers had breakfast, heard from the “purple pearls” cheer group and toured the school, meeting some of the more than 300 students who attend Starks.
Lynette Howard, principal at Sparks, said the school was “blessed and thankful” for the volunteers.
She was not alone in seeing a positive impact.
“I think [meeting the students] is going to really make them love the school and get deeply involved, and we’re really excited about that,” said Alex Enriquez, executive director of CityYear Dallas.
The volunteers appreciated the opportunity to give back.
“It says a lot about the company and about our leadership that they care enough not only about us as Associates, [but] they want to see this community succeed,” said Yolanda A., another SC volunteer. “They want to see these communities elevate and be something to be proud of.”
Santander Consumer’s VPTO program provides more than 5,000 Associates up to two days off per year to donate time and energy to charitable organizations in their communities.
Last year SC Associates spent nearly 11,000 hours volunteering through the VPTO program.