Mercedes-Benz dealers donate $100,000 to scholarship for church shooting victims’ families

The Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board along with local car dealer Tommy Baker donated at combined $100,000 on Thursday to set up a scholarship fund for the families of the victims of the June 17 Emanuel AME Church shooting.

The benevolence of corporate America continues to be bestowed on the Lowcountry in the wake of the June 17 church shooting that took the lives of nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

On Thursday, the 13-member Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board announced on behalf of all its luxury car dealers in the nation it is donating $100,000 to establish a scholarship fund for the families of the Bible study participants who lost their lives when accused gunman Dylann Roof opened fire at the Calhoun Street church.

The money is separate from that donated by many others to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund and other funds. It is set up to further the education of the victims’ families.

Tommy Baker, owner and president of Baker Motor Co. of Charleston, Mercedes-Benz of Mount Pleasant and Baker Buick GMC Cadillac, wrote a letter after the shootings to Joseph Agresta, chairman of the dealer board, asking to do something that would have a lasting effect on the Charleston community in the wake of the tragedy.

“We all know that Charleston has shown the United States and the rest of the world we are a united community with no racial divide,” Baker wrote in the letter. “We should honor this spirit of compassion and community with a substantial donation.”

The money came from more than $91,000 in a Dealer Action Fund set aside for charities. Baker contributed the remainder.

Since 2011, donations from the fund have been made on behalf of the 370 nationwide Mercedes-Benz dealers to various charitable and community causes across the country, including The Children’s Museum of Richmond, The Miami Children’s Hospital, and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.

“I want to personally thank every single Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board member and dealership throughout our country for making this happen,” Baker said. “It has been incredible to see the outpouring of love that has kept our Charleston community strong. You all have made a lasting impact and positive influence on the city I call home, and I am forever thankful.”

Other large and small businesses, many set up in Charleston, have also donated to different funds set up after the killings.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.