Smart Chevrolet employees presented a $2,848 check to the Pine Bluff Commercial Christmas Card Fund on Tuesday at their White Hall dealership. The fund benefits needy students in Jefferson County.


Lee Smart, a co-owner of Smart Chevrolet, said his sales force employees raised the money with a charitable donation in mind, adding that he has been familiar with the Christmas Card Fund for several years.


“We have a lot of fun collecting it,” Smart said. “We fine each other for idiocracies so they understand it’s going to the kids.”


Smart Auto Group sales professional John James is the judge of the sales team.


“Throughout the year, we have miscellaneous fines in the sales force,” James said. “If people park in the wrong spot, they show up a little late, they are wearing the wrong shirt or their uniform is out of standard, we fine them and we have a court every Friday. At the end of the day on Friday, we tally up the fines to help less fortunate kids at Christmas.”


Smart Auto Group began fining its employees in January. The employees held a meeting to vote on which charity to award the money this year.


“We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, especially those kids who are less fortunate,” James said. “That’s what it’s all about.”


The newspaper has sponsored the annual fund, which allows donors to make contributions, for the past 30 years. Anyone who gives at least $1 will have his or her name placed on a “Community Christmas Card” to be published in the Commercial on Christmas Eve.


Since 1987, the effort has raised more than $300,000 for children in Jefferson County’s four school districts. None of the money is kept for administrative costs. The newspaper collected nearly $7,000 last year. As of Tuesday afternoon, $3,978 had been collected.


The deadline to give money is Monday, Dec. 18, for donors who want to make contributions and have their names listed on the Community Christmas Card. Donations should be made to the Christmas Card Fund, care of the Pine Bluff Commercial, P.O. Box 6469, Pine Bluff, AR, 71611. Donations may also be hand-delivered to The Commercial at 300 S. Beech St. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.