When Dan Burks saw that kids went home hungry for the weekend, he knew he had to help.
“In fact, one in five children don’t get food from Friday until breakfast on Monday,” says Dan, Vice President of Operations, Car-Mart’s Region 5, in Dalton, Ga. “It tears at my heart strings.”
So, it was an easy decision for both Dan and his wife, Julie to become members of the board of directors for Helping Hands Ending Hunger of Georgia. The couple packages foodstuff and loads cars with food for families on Fridays.
“We talk to the people taking their food home. It’s wonderful to see the kids smile when they get fruit bars or Fruit Loops,” Dan says. “They go home and benefit from this food. It’s intense, but extremely rewarding.
“Of all the things I’ve done charity-related, this one is very, very real. People not being able to eat regularly in the United States seems insane to me,” continues Dan, a native of Vilonia, Ark.
It’s a documented fact that when children are hungry, they struggle to pay attention.
But when they get fed, good things happen. “It doesn’t get more real than that,” says Dan, while adding that The Hunger Walk along with organizations like Helping Hands, distributes 61 million meals annually.
Indeed, giving back is important to Dan. Paying it forward helps him stay connected with reality. “If you lose perspective with what’s going on around you, it’s abject failure. Giving back to people – it’s who I am. I search it out intentionally. I don’t ever want to take everything we have here in the U.S. for granted,” he says.
Dan volunteers for organizations that have meaning for him. For the Wounded Warrior Foundation, he helped ‘outfit’ a house for a veteran returning from Afghanistan. “It was like helping a brother,” recalls Dan, a veteran himself.
Dan’s 32 Car-Mart dealerships are active in their communities with various activities. When Hurricane Florence struck in 2018, Dan and his team delivered food and supplies to Brunswick, Ga. The Car-Mart team also helped the Red Cross in sorting food and cleaning up debris.
“When people lose everything, it’s very humbling,” says Dan. “You can actually make a difference with a little bit of sweat equity.”
Car-Mart – a community-minded company
When Dan joined Car-Mart in 2014, he did his homework to learn about the company and he liked what he discovered. “Being active in the community is part of Car-Mart’s DNA. The company firmly believes it’s important to give back and help its customers,” says Dan.
“At Car-Mart, we’re here to help our customers and our communities. We ask our associates to get involved in the community,” Dan continues. “It’s so rewarding and it’s so important.”
That’s why Dan’s heart is with the Helping Hands organization. “It’s so real when you hand food to a family. It’s people in my community.”
“In everyone’s community, especially in the United States, there are opportunities, and I would challenge everyone to give back. The rewards go way beyond anything you can measure,” Dan concludes. “Look for opportunities to do something great.”