At the corner of Route 50 and 606 near South Riding, in the Dulles Landing shopping center on any Sunday morning, as many as 500 hot rods, custom, modified and classic cars gather.
Cars & Coffee, notable due to use of the mall’s Dunkin Donuts, is not just an event for car enthusiasts, it is a weekly event used to help raise awareness, food, clothes and money for local charitable organizations.
“Car enthusiasts are very giving. With our gatherings, along with the support of volunteers and donations from the public, these events can raise over $10,000 or a truck load of food and clothing in a single day,” said Eric Jacobs, organizer of the weekly Cars & Coffee event.
Many other non-profit and charitable organizations have benefited: Ellie’s Hats, a local charity for kids cancer that began making hats for kids losing their hair due to treatment. Driven to Cure, which funds efforts to cure a rare form of rare kidney cancer. Food drives for So Others May Eat (SOME) and many others.
Jacobs himself is a Star Wars aficionado. Jacobs’ fully customized 700hp 1968 Camaro SS and intimidating Hummer H1 do not just look special, they have been built with a theme and goal. Built as a tribute to his mother, Theresa Sondra Jacobs, who battled cancer and passed away in June 2017, the Star Wars themed vehicles; the Camaro dubbed the “Tie Fighter X1” and the Hummer H1 named the “Death Star,” are now used as attractions for all ages at these events.
“I am actually adding a pro-charger to the Camaro in the coming weeks—1000hp seems to attract more people,” said Jacobs. “One of my main goals is to use these vehicles in various fundraising events and attract support and awareness for organizations who need help.”
There is a great deal of background work that goes into the planning and set up of each weekly car event, such as coordinating with car groups, special guests, appearances. Social media plays a large part in exposure and growth which itself takes daily effort and strategy. Planning, coordinating and managing the fundraisers is another time-consuming aspect.
“You have to have a passion not only for the cars but for the good you can do,” said Jacobs, “It takes several hours most days and then half or most of the day during the event.”
“I try to attend as many events as I can so that I can talk to people about Ellie’s Hats. Events like the one with Cars and Coffee gives us an opportunity to bring more exposure to Ellie’s Hats. The car club community has some very big hearted people and we have seen their passion pay off for our kids,” Jay Coakley, founder of the nonprofit, Ellies Hats, said.
Other similar car groups like the local Cars & Cigars organize car rally events and also raise money and awareness for charity.
“Cars are our passion and charity seems to fit right in with our community and it’s supporters,” said Tom Jennrich, co-organizer for the traveling event. “The first time Cars & Cigars did anything that might be categorized as a “charity” event, we didn’t even really realize it. A member, Larry Gasque with the Mopar Unaffilates, had a young cousin, Tristan Holmes, who suffered from a traumatic brain injury. Larry had mentioned it in passing about a week prior to our “Holiday Show” which we randomly started as an off-season event. I think this was year 2, and about 6 days prior to meeting at the Lakehouse we kind of limped the word out on our limited social media presence and tried to text our friends. Luck of all luck, the December show ended up being about 60 degrees and we passed around a (literal) bucket and raised $400 dollars,” Jennrich said, “That’s all it took, we were in for charity work.”
The two groups, Cars & Coffee and Cars & Cigars, often join together to cross promote and attend each other’s events, each having websites and social media platforms.
Dulles Cars & Coffee meets between 7 and 9 a.m. every Sunday at the Dulles Landing shopping center near South Riding. Their next charity event at 7 a.m. Sept. 24 with a Star Wars theme promoting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.