Operation UNITE will receive a new Toyota vehicle to better serve the community thanks to the public’s support.

In an on-line vote Sunday, June 26, UNITE beat out four other non-profit organizations in Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” initiative.

“This is exciting news,” said Karen Kelly, director for UNITE. “We had hundreds of people spread the word about the competition encouraging their friends and family to vote. I’ve even heard about individuals going table-to-table at restaurants asking patrons to support UNITE. It’s truly amazing.”

Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” initiative began May 9 and will award new vehicles to 100 non-profits across the United States each day through August 16. A total of 500 “compelling” organizations across the United States were selected as finalists by an independent panel of six judges.

UNITE was matched up against four other strong organizations – the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor, Cincinnati Ballet Company, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida and SPCA Cincinnati.

“The voting was really close throughout the day,” Kelly noted. “I’m so thankful that we had so many supporters who were willing to take part of their Sunday and select UNITE as the organization most deserving of the vehicle.”

UNITE will use the new vehicle to support several initiatives, including taking children without transportation to youth programs offered throughout the year.

“Transportation is a critical issue for many families throughout rural southern and eastern Kentucky,” Kelly noted. “We don’t want any child to miss out on any activity. The new vehicle will enable UNITE to better meet this need.”

In addition, the vehicle gives additional space to carry learning materials and tools needed to implement educational activities throughout the region.

UNITE’s staff will use the car when meeting one-on-one with individuals who have received assistance through the treatment voucher program, who are seeking help for an addiction, or needing transportation to a treatment program.

Finally, UNITE will use the car to provide assistance to communities affected by natural disasters or in times of crisis.

“The outpouring of support and interest in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program has been tremendous,” said Michael Rouse, Toyota vice president of philanthropy and community affairs. “It is amazing to see how this program has brought individuals, organizations and communities together.”

“We are equally excited to see Operation UNITE utilize their new vehicle to do good in the community.”

As of June 29 four other Kentucky non-profits have won cars in the Toyota initiative – the Anderson County Humane Society in Lawrenceburg, The Healing Place (homeless shelter) in Louisville, Owensboro Area Shelter & Information Services in Owensboro and Redwood (a facility for the disabled) in Fort Mitchell.

Since 1991, Toyota has contributed more than $500 million to non-profit organizations and has been guided by a strong belief in serving the communities where it does business.