COLUMBIA — The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri gets to add a brand new Toyota to its two aging staff sedans. The food bank landed the prize through the 100 Cars for Good program Sunday. The Toyota will come with a six-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
The 100 Cars for Good program is a major philanthropic initiative hosted on Facebook in which online voters choose from five nonprofits each day to win a new Toyota. The contest began May 14 and will run a total of 100 days, ending Aug. 21. The food bank was the 42nd charity to win a car.
The food bank has two old sedans, a 1999 Ford Contour and a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier, that its staff has been using to travel across its 32-county service area. They are mainly used to hold food drives and fundraisers, as well as to spread awareness and to feed people in need.
"One of them has 125,000 miles on it, so we are in desperate need of new cars," said food bank spokeswoman Rachel Ellersieck.
The food bank learned about 100 Cars for Good from Dean Hovis, a salesman at Joe Machens Toyota, Ellersieck said. The food bank was among 4,000 applicants from across the country and eventually made it to the final 500 nonprofits eligible to win one of the daily contests.
While Toyota cannot give an estimate of how many people voted Sunday, the leaderboards suggested the food bank led the contest with 37 percent of the votes, according to a news release from Ellersieck. It beat out four other nonprofits including organizations from Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
"I think you can never underestimate the power of mid-Missouri," Ellersieck said, adding the voting was nearly constant all day.
"We weren't surprised to see the mid-Missouri community mobilize like they did, but we were surprised to see that we were in the lead by as much as we were," Ellersieck said.
The food bank initially selected a Toyota Highlander but might decide to choose a more fuel-efficient model. It hopes to receive the new car within 150 days.