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Gabus Automotive Group presents checks totaling $100,000 to four local charities: Ashley Okland Star Playground, Cora’s Cupboard — Hillis Elementary School Wellness Learning Center, Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs and Puppy Jake Foundation.

Posted August 20, 2014 in Ankeny, Beaverdale, Clive, Des Moines West, Downtown, Community Web Exclusives, Web Exclusives, Grimes, Johnston, Urbandale, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights

Des Moines, Iowa—Gene Gabus, president of Gabus Automotive Group, presented $25,000 checks to four local charities Friday, August 6.

Charities benefiting from the 2014 Gabus Automotive Group Gabus Cares event included:
• Ashley Okland Star Playground
• Cora’s Cupboard – Hillis Elementary School Wellness Learning Center
• Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs
• Puppy Jake Foundation

“Our community support program — Gabus Cares — provides our employees and customers the privilege to donate to organizations that give Iowans hope through projects that improve quality of living,” says Gene Gabus, president of Gabus Automotive Group. “All our dealerships are locally-­‐owned and locally-­‐operated. We see neighbors and friends, not just customers every day, and we believe it’s important to help one another. We’ve had the honor of contributing over $656,100 to worthy, local nonprofits since we started our July sales charitable effort in 2008.”

2014 Donation Impact
This year’s $100,000 gift:
• supports Iowa veterans’ essential living needs,
• provides opportunities for children and families in northwest Des Moines to learn about food choices and preparation in order to live healthier lives,
• trains a service dog and places the service dog with a wounded Iowa military veteran, and
• provides a special playground for all children and families.

“The contribution by Gabus Automotive Group helped to catapult our Ashley Okland Star Playground campaign to its completion goal. The Star Playground contribution has helped to provide an area for inclusive play for children, and smiles for years to come! The playground commemorates a very special person who will continue to touch a lot of lives. Ashley was a person who loved living life to the fullest and bringing others together. As a result of the generosity of donors like Gabus Automotive Group, this playground – the first of its kind for the City of Des Moines – will allow her spirit and energy to live on through the children who play there.”
Brenna Finnerty and Susan Hatten — Co-­‐Chairs, Ashley Okland Star Playground

Group.Informal“The contribution to Cora’s Cupboard from Gabus Automotive Group is immeasurable. Cora’s Cupboard is a space where not only teachers and students can access but parents and our community. We envision this space being a hub for education and outreach and a location where students and families can engage in healthy lifestyle choices and education.

With this new space at Hillis, teachers will be able to bring their class to Cora’s Cupboard and have resources and tools to explore the science behind food, cook together and research sustainable practices all related to food, waste, energy and more. This demonstration area will house the tools and resources for local chefs to help teach lessons related to nutrition and healthy eating. Cora’s Cupboard will allow our school to continue this important work of building healthy minds and bodies and extending this work to the families of Hillis.”
Elizabeth Sloan — Principal, Hillis Elementary School

FiestaPups2“The Department of Veterans Affairs greatly appreciates this generous gift from Gabus Automotive Group. The Gift will be deposited in the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund program that is administered by our department. This program provides direct support to Iowa veterans and their families and provides financial need in times of hardship. The money pays for such items as, dental care, housing repairs and vehicle repairs. 100% of these dollars go directly to our veterans. Thank you for caring about our state’s veterans.”
Col. Robert King — Executive Director, Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs

“The extraordinary gift from Gabus Automotive Group will support Puppy Jake Foundation’s mission of providing professionally trained service dogs for our wounded military veterans. The generosity of the Gabus dealerships, employees and customers will directly benefit one our of nation’s heroes with the gift of independence and hope through the assistance of a service dog. These funds will be used to pay all costs associated with a single service dog in training from an eight-­‐week old puppy through graduation with his veteran recipient. Words can’t express our deep gratitude, nor the impact it will have on a member of the US Armed Services.”
Becky Beach, Board of Directors President, Puppy Jake Foundation

About Gabus Automotive Group

Charles Gabus purchased his first dealership in 1953 in Holdrege, NE. Gabus moved his Charles Gabus Ford dealership to West Des Moines, IA and eventually to its present location on Merle Hay Road. Today, Charles Gabus Ford is Iowa’s largest Ford dealership.

In addition to Charles Gabus Ford, the Gabus Automotive Group includes Toyota of Des Moines, Des Moines Motors, Des Moines Mitsubishi and Kia of Des Moines. Automotive Group President Gene Gabus continues his father’s legacy of selling quality vehicles at a good value, providing superior service and maintaining local dealer ownership. For more information, call 515-238-8878.

The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs

The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs serves our veterans and their families. It is responsible for disseminating information to veterans regarding benefits and services available to them, mainting military service records of Iowa veterans, and assisting veterans with benefit applications. We also administer several programs that provided direct assistance to veterans and their families. The Department, with its headquarters at Camp Dodge, Johnston, works with 99 county veteran’s affairs offices and other agencies to assist and insure that our veterans receive the federal, state and local benefits that they deserve and to which they are entitled.

The Department also operates and maintains the Iowa Veterans Cemetery located along Interstate 80 north of Van Meter. The cemetery is Iowa’s only state-owned and operated cemetery. Veterans of all services and branches, and qualified spouses and dependents my be buried at the cemetery.

The Iowa Veterans Trust Fund is one of four funds administered by the Department. This fund provides several types of direct support to needy veterans. Examples include housing repairs, emergency medical care, dental expenses, eyeglasses, hearing aids, prescriptions, and automobile repairs. The applications are reviewed and approved by the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs. During 2013, 93 qualified applications were received for a disbursement of $173,844.00 towards various types of assistance. One hundred percent of the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund monies go to the veteran.

For more information visit

About Cora’s Cupboard- Hillis Elementary School Wellness Learning Center

Hillis Elementary is committed to empowering our students and their families. Research indicates childhood obesity is a major barrier for children and a growing trend. At Hillis we are strive to stop this trend. With current programs and grants already received, Hillis has created a culture of health for students through a biking to school initiative and a walking club and gardening and sustainable practice efforts.

Hillis educates students and their families about healthy nutrition and growing fresh vegetables both at school and at home through our outdoor gardens. Cora’s Cupboard will not only teach students and families about cooking with fresh foods, but also build healthy, lifelong nutrition and cooking skills, increase self-confidence, and encourage positive family time together. Students will also learn about the science behind food and develop a deeper understanding about where our food comes from. Teachers will also have space to facilitate lessons related to their grade level core standards in science, math, literacy and writing. For more information visit

About Ashley Okland Star Playground

Variety Iowa’s Ashley Okland Star Playground project benefits children with cognitive and physical disabilities. Located within Ewing Park, on the southeast side of Des Moines, the park is all-inclusive and will cater to special- needs kids offering adapted playground equipment. The park is designed to appeal to all children to encourage play among children of all abilities to help break down barriers and foster friendships. The park memorializes former Young Variety board member, Ashley Okland. For more information visit

About Puppy Jake Foundation

Puppy Jake Foundation’s mission is to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of wounded military veterans through well bred, socialized and professionally trained dogs. We select, train and place service dogs to assist men and women of the U.S. Armed Services with disabilities in their homes and in the community. For more information visit

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