Christmas coming early for deserving families

DOWNEY - Two refurbished cars will be donated to two underprivileged families during a ceremony Monday at Little John's Bodyworks in Downey.The donation is part of a program sponsored by the National Auto Body Council and administered by Esurance, the Automobile Club of Southern California and Fix Auto body shops. The first recipient family is headed by Ann (no last name given), a single mom and grandmother with two daughters, one of whom is an adult with a daughter of her own. The other is a 16-year-old living at home. Ann is in the process of adopting her 4-year-old granddaughter who has been exposed to significant neglect and abuse. As a result, Ann's granddaughter has developed significant emotional and behavioral problems which require intensive therapy. Ann works full-time and does her best to meet her daughter's and granddaughter's needs. In addition, she has been taking parenting classes to help her learn how to take care of a special needs child. Ann's car is more than 10 years old and has consistently broken down over the last year. This has created a hardship on the family as Ann has had to miss various therapy appointments. Being the sole supporter of her family, Ann does not have the resources to buy a reliable car, making the donated vehicle "a true godsend." The second family receiving a vehicle is headed by Margarite and her husband, who have been raising Margarite's five grandchildren for more than five years, starting when the youngest was six weeks old. The birth parents of the children had a history of addiction and criminal behavior, resulting in all of the children entering the foster care system. Margarite did not want her grandchildren being separated into different foster homes, so she decided to take them in to her home, with the help of the children's aunt who also lives with them. Margarite has successfully adopted them all - girls aged 6 and 13, and boys aged 7, 9 and 11. Some of the children have special needs related to their history of abuse and neglect, so there are many therapy appointments and activities on the schedule. The family currently owns a Ford Taurus, which does not fit this family of eight. Help will soon be on the way in the form of a minivan or other family-sized vehicle. "Fix Auto is proud to have helped…families have received valuable transportation the past three years," said Rick Halopoff, owner of Fix Auto Downey, operated by Little John Bodyworks. "I am grateful to be part of a project that clearly illustrates the giving nature of [National Auto Body Council] members and the collision repair industry." Monday's ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.

********** Published: November 18, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 31