AUGUSTA — Charlie and Nancy Shuman are known for making substantial donations to local organizations that help people or animals, but just cutting checks doesn’t quite cut it.

The Winthrop couple, owners of Charlie’s Motor Mall in Augusta, also get involved directly in the causes they support, organizing fundraisers, encouraging their family, friends and employees to also help out in the community. They personally shop for and deliver winter clothing to organizations that help the needy, and they donate toys and food for homeless pets at the animal shelter.

“With Nancy and Charlie, no amount of help is too big or too small,” said Hilary Roberts, executive director of Kennebec Valley Humane Society. “They sponsor our auction, which is our biggest fundraiser every year, they sponsor it, they pay for the location and the food. They actually started it, 15 years ago, in their home, out of a desire to help animals and the shelter. Nancy will also come by with a van full of goodies for our animals. One day, we had an older dog in the shelter, and Nancy went out and bought an orthopedic bed. That’s just who they are.”

For their continued support of community organizations including the YMCA, United Way, MaineGeneral hospital and others, Charlie and Nancy Shuman were awarded the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Special Service Award. The Shumans will be among nine businesses honored Jan. 24 at the chamber’s annual awards banquet. The Kennebec Journal is a chamber member.

“They’re fabulously supportive of the United Way, in the annual (fundraising) campaign, but also in so many other ways throughout the year,” Rob Gordon, executive director of the United Way of Kennebec Valley, said recently. “I just came from the warming center, and there were families there receiving clothing donated by the Shumans. Winter clothing is one of their big concerns for people. And children’s clothing. Nancy is always thinking about who may be in need. In addition to their generosity, they have also been real community leaders in that respect, they set quite an example for giving. It’s very heartfelt generosity, very real, and I respect very much the fact, as a successful business family, they participate fully and generously in supporting community needs.”

Charlie Shuman said his wife, Nancy, doesn’t want to see people, or animals, go without what they need. He said they have instilled that desire to help the community in their own children, who are also involved in the family car business, and others, as well.

“I think it’s important for us to be role leaders in the community and encourage other people to give, both of their time and, if they can afford to, of their money,” Charlie Shuman said. “When I started in business 27 years ago, when I had 17 employees and a modest Subaru dealership, I said if the community is good to us, and we made it, then we’d give back to the community.”

That business now employs some 275 workers, and carries Subaru, Jeep, Nissan, Honda, Kia, Mitsubishi, Scion and Toyota vehicle lines in Augusta and in Winthrop at the former Bob Barrows Chevrolet.

The Shumans are also major donors, according to Chamber of Commerce officials, to the YMCA, local schools, food banks and colleges.

The Shumans were the major contributor — the family and their business gave at least $500,000 — to the birthing center at the new Alfond Center for Health, which is named after the Shuman family, The Shuman Family Maternity and Pediatrics Wing.

“They’re amazing, but such down to earth, people,” Lisa Hallee, vice president of philanthropy for MaineGeneral, said of the Shumans. “The biggest thing for them is they wanted to be leaders in making this new hospital happen. They helped set a standard and other people responded to that. Nancy is a very motherly person. She cares deeply about children.”

Gordon noted the Shumans, for several years, have given to children’s programs through the United Way.

“Charlie and Nancy feel strongly this is where they were successful in business, so they want to stay connected in this community,” Gordon said. “They are thinking of people in need and ways they can help. Of course, writing a check helps. But they’re thinking beyond that, about what is the most important need, and helping address it.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647[email protected]

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