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Hillcrest VW Donates Vehicle for DARE Program

As the school resource officer for the Burrell School District, Lower Burrell Det. John Marhefka believes that everyone has a role in keeping the community safe. And one local business is proving that to be true in a really big way.

Hillcrest Volkswagen has provided Marhefka with a vehicle – a Volkswagen Passat – that allows him to travel between schools, attend trainings and appear at court proceedings throughout the course of the day.

Without the vehicle?

“We’d be in a pickle,” Marhefka says, adding that the Passat is also used as part of the Lower Burrell Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

“We’re one of the few departments in the area that still has an active D.A.R.E. program,” Marhefka says. “There was once a lot of federal money available, but that no longer is the case.”

The vehicle, which has been custom decorated with D.A.R.E. branding, is the second that Hillcrest Volkswagen has provided to the police department. Like the first – a VW Beetle – the dealership is making the payments on the vehicle’s three-year lease. Hillcrest General Manager Robert Bordonaro Jr. believes that the D.A.R.E. program makes a difference.

“I think that drug awareness is really important for the kids, and I think the vehicle gets them thinking. The reaction with the Beetle was really good with the children,” Bordonaro Jr. says.

Before Hillcrest began its arrangement with the police department, Marhefka used a forfeiture vehicle for the D.A.R.E. program. But when the vehicle began to fail, he knew he had to explore his options.

“The forfeiture vehicle had over 100,000 miles on it,” Marhefka says. “So I took a shot in the dark. I typed up a letter and sent it to various dealerships – and Hillcrest was the one that came through for me.”

Burrell Superintendent Dr. Shannon Wagner applauds the dealership, which has been in business along Route 56 since 1962, for stepping forward to help.

“I think it’s a great partnership between Hillcrest and the Lower Burrell Police Department,” she says. “We benefit from that partnership and appreciate the generosity of the dealership.”

Marhefka agrees, saying that businesses like Hillcrest are part of what make Lower Burrell so special.

“I can’t put into words how much we appreciate it,” he says. “It just goes to show what a great community we live in, when you have a local business that goes well beyond what they have to do.”

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