STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- Island Auto Group announced it would offer loaner vehicles to any first responders who find themselves without transportation to work during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak.
Marcello Sciarrino, the owner of Island Auto Group, will provide loner cars at all 14 dealerships scattered across Staten Island based on the need and availability.
"We started to offer our entire fleet of loaner cars, which is over 50 cars to any first responder," Sciarrino said.
At that time, Sciarrino had no idea how much the vehicles might be desperately needed by the city's first responders trying to get to their jobs in the midst of the pandemic.
"We thought this was a great way to provide them with a completely free service," he said. "There is no charge for it. All they are responsible for is gas and tolls. We are providing the car completely free of charge right now."
The dealership has loaned out 10 cars so far, and another five are scheduled to be picked up by first responders. Recently, Sciarrino received a call came from a woman who is a 911 operator.
"She said an hour commute is now two hours with ferry service slowing down and subway service," he said. "She is also concerned for her safety riding mass transit right now and bringing it home to her family."
Sciarrino said that one of his dealerships was able to get her a reliable car. In the meantime, business in this typically very busy service shop is anything but busy.
Marcello has had to lay off 340 of his 400 employees, leaving only 60 to pick up the necessary work.
"We are going to make sure to do the best as a business to take care of them, financially and mentally," Sciarrino said. "As soon as this is over, we are ready to get them all back to work."
Sciarrino says that he is keeping in contact with all of his laid-off employees and continuing to help them during this difficult time.
"It's a great time to show how New Yorkers and Staten Islanders all get together in a time of need and make sure we take care of our most important people," he said.
Even in the most trying of times, there is a critical need for transportation, and there are cars to meet that demand.
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