The cornerstone of that effort, going on through July 5, is the Sheehy 7000 sales event, which generates a donation to the heart association for each vehicle sold, with a guarantee of $150,000, Centore said.
The total amount could go higher, since last year's 6,000-unit promotion resulted in a contribution of more than $200,000.
"Everything that we do is designed to generate funds for the American Heart Association," she said. "To do that, we need to sell the cars, but we also take donations from anybody -- from our vendors and our customers" even if they don't buy a car.
Sheehy uses its charitable activities in its marketing efforts on broadcast TV and radio and in direct-mail and digital advertising, driving home a message that resonates with potential customers. "We're more than just a dealership," Centore said. "We're there to serve the community whenever we can."
Sheehy Auto Stores is No. 33 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. with retail sales of 22,987 new vehicles in 2015.
Other service-oriented events include dog-adoption days at its dealerships, including the Subaru and Lexus stores. Rescue groups "bring animals in, and customers or anyone can come by and see the animals, interact with them and adopt them right there on the spot," Centore said.
At Thanksgiving, food banks are the focus of giving by the dealerships; at Christmas, it's Toys for Tots. And each dealership picks a favorite charity for a significant contribution at year end, Centore said.
Michelle Nostheide, vice president of marketing and communications at the American Heart Association, said her group sees the opportunity as one of outreach, both to the larger community and dealership employees.
Lots of them spend long hours sitting in front of a desk and are prime customers for the heart association's demonstrations on exercises that can be done in the office and diet tips. "It's important to us that they feel that they are benefiting from the partnership," she said.
Centore said there's more to come as Sheehy seeks new ways to reach out to the community and sell cars in the process. "We get creative," she said. "And it's fun."