There's a lot of excitement for a sports team and its fan base at the start of a new season — and local dealership Midway Motors wanted to add to to the hype for the Newton High School basketball teams as they began competition for 2018-2019 in Ravenscroft Gym this week.

In an effort to make sure the Railers had as much support as possible in their home opener, Midway Motors donated $2,500 to cover the cost of tickets for (up to) 400 fans to attend the game. It was an effort set up through the dealership's partner, Ally Bank, but it's something General Manager Billy Frary noted fits squarely within Midway Motors' philanthropic mission.

"We're always looking for ways to reach out, especially the schools and that type of stuff," Frary said. "We kind of focus in one area, and that's mainly with our schools here locally."

Both USD 373 and Bethel College have been the recipients of Midway Motors' goodwill, efforts that have ramped up over the last few years. From sponsoring athletic teams to donating to the local special education cooperative, there are a number of ways the dealership has gotten involved with local schools.

Among those efforts, Midway Motors has also taken to adopting numerous teachers from the Newton schools for whom the dealership purchases classroom supplies prior to the start of the school year (part of the Harvey County United Way's Fill the Bus campaign). Last year, Frary noted Midway Motors gathered supplies for 15 teachers — and staff felt the need to bump that up to 25 prior to the current school year, a major commitment given some of the growing needs for teachers across the district.

Part of the drive to get involved, Frary admitted, comes from Midway Motors' corporate headquarters in McPherson — where the dealership is synonymous with support for the local school district. Frary's wife works within USD 373 and when taking over for the former GM of Midway Motors he noted making a similar commitment to the community was heavily discussed.

"We talked about the things that McPherson (dealership) did for its schools and we decided we need to start doing more for our schools," Frary said. "We know the kids, the children that they're teaching — whether they're elementary age or college age — they're the future of our country, so we want to be able to help those teachers provide for those students at the best level they can so they can give them the best possible education."

Midway Motors' motto is "come join the family," something both Frary and his staff look to embody in commitment to family and community values — including service to the community.

On top of the monetary donation for tickets to the home opener for the basketball season, half of the Midway Motors staff was in attendance supporting the Railers as well as giving out shirts, sunglasses and more.

Seeing the appreciation that stems from that community engagement — whether through donation or service — is something Frary said is always extremely rewarding, though that's not the reason Midway Motors got involved in the Newton community. With dealership employees also helping volunteer regularly for events like the Newton Rec Commission's coat drive and the Eight-player football championships, Frary pointed out just how impactful that can be.

"I'd encourage all business owners to be as involved in the community as they possibly can," Frary said.

"Even if we can't give money, if we can just give our time to volunteer at different events or volunteer at the homeless shelter, anywhere you can give back," Frary said, "... those things don't cost us anything, but it's just being a part of the community and being a part of it all. It doesn't take money to necessarily give back."