Thanks to a suggestion from a TPS Proud graduate, the students and staff of Toledo Public Schools are showing their support for keeping Jeep in Toledo.

Dr. Romules Durant, CEO/superintendent of TPS, recently received an email from a TPS Proud graduate who suggested that the district's students, teachers and administrators show their support for the iconic Jeep brand as officials of Fiat Chrysler Automotive weigh whether they will keep production in Toledo.

The call went out and the response was swift and overwhelming. Hand drawn notes, beautifully colored paper Jeeps and even banners with the handprints of preschoolers made their way to TPS headquarters.

Students addressed their letters to Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automotive, and talked about the importance that Jeep has meant for their families and how they dream of working at the factory some day. Others talked about how their families drive Jeeps and they hopy to drive one someday. And still others talked about how much they know that the iconic Jeep, built in Toledo since World War II, means to the entire city of Toledo.

Trey Haney, a third grader at Elmhurst Elementary, wrote that he hopes the plant stays around for a long time because many of his family members have worked there and he wants to work there as well. He wrote about the "cool" Jeep fair he had attended with his grampa. Then he told Mr. Marchionne, "His name is Vern. Do you know him."

Trey and his grandparents, Vern and Jo VanCleve, were the guest of honors at a news conference held at Elmhurst on Thursday, April 2, when Dr. Durant and city leaders talked about the importance of the Jeep plant.

The Keep Jeep in Toledo campaign is underway because at the Paris Auto Show in October, Mr. Marchionne said that enhancements to the next-generation Wrangler (that will be built starting in 2017) such as an aluminum body and a new unibody platform, would likely mean leaving the longtime Toledo Assembly Complex. Since that time, city officials have been working with company executives to make sure the Jeep - which has been made in Toledo since World War II - will remain here.

Speaking before third and fourth graders at Elmhurst, Dr. Durant said the district feels strongly about keeping Jeep here because everyone recognizes how much the plant has given to generations of families. He said he would tell Fiat Chrysler officials, "You have people here who care. This is part of our families."

Mr. VanCleve, Trey's grandfather, said that not only have a roughly a dozen family members worked at the Jeep plant, they all drive Jeep vehicles.

Bob Vasquez, president of the Toledo Board of Education, said his family too are a big Jeep family, with he and his son driving Wranglers and his wife driving a Cherokee.

He told those gathered for the news conference, "Jeep is a supporter of ours and we're a supporter of Jeep."

Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon-Wozniak spoke directly to the students, saying they are the present and the future of the Jeep plant and the city.

Ms. Skeldon-Wozniak told the students to study hard so they're ready "to be the next brightest, most talented people who work at Jeep."

All of the TPS letters, cards, banners and drawings will be sent early in the week of April 6 to the Michigan headquarters of Fiat Chrysler Automotive.

Written on April 2, 2015