Drivers test a Ford to build new playground

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Val Zimmer test drives a Ford F350 Super Duty at the Drive 4UR School event at St. Augustine School on Oct. 1. Ford donated $20 for each test drive to the school

By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

If you were told you could help a community raise money by test-driving a Ford, the first question you would probably ask is, “What’s the catch?”

In this case there is no catch. Ford Canada recently started a marketing initiative called Drive One 4UR Event and donates $20 per test drive, up to $6,000, to a community effort.

On Oct. 1 Ponoka Ford was working with the St. Augustine Catholic School to raise money for a new playground. Ponoka Ford representatives were there to show drivers the new cars and have them fill out a five-minute survey.

Ponoka Ford sales manager Pat Boardman said this is the second year they have done this and his team is respectful of the spirit of the event. “This is not a day to sell cars.”

In 2009 St. Augustine had its primary school playground decommissioned because it did not meet the safety code, and a group called the Friends of St. Augustine School looked at rebuilding it. Estimates were around $90,000 but the group was able to replace it for $43,000 and they had money left over. This gave them the idea to build another playground for grades 4 to 6.

Treasurer Karen Williams said they have raised $12,000 for the project so far. “Three hundred is the magic number for us and we have been making phone calls to parents to get them out here,” said Williams.

Williams said it is a win-win for Ford because they get out to the community and gather marketing research from the experience.

Boardman said Ford Canada has done a good thing by starting the program. It gets the dealership involved in the community and helps the company be competitive in the market.

Dennis Winslow, who works for the Town of Ponoka, was asked to come in for a test drive. “It’s a good idea, and it puts their name on top of things. People will think twice when thinking of buying a new car.”

Joan Prediger came out and took a test drive to support the school, “We drive Fords because my husband was a Ford mechanic so it was an easy decision to do the test drive.”

Friends of St. Augustine were able to bring in more than 200 test drivers to the event.

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