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Illinois Body Shop Gifts Two Vehicles to Needy Families

Zara’s Collision Center of Springfield, Ill., announced that it recently gifted two vehicles to local needy families as part of its annual Benevolence Program.

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Zara’s Collision Center of Springfield, Ill., announced that it recently gifted two vehicles to local needy families as part of its annual Benevolence Program. Zara’s has restored and donated nearly 50 vehicles during the 21 years they have had the Benevolence Program.

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Emma Santos and her gift, a 2011 Ford Fusion.

Single mother Emma Santos had been using a combination of public transportation options to get to and from her job as a barista at Starbucks while simultaneously getting her three-year-old son Abram to daycare. Thanks to Zara’s, Emma’s transportation problems have now been solved now that she is the proud owner of a 2011 Ford Fusion.

“I would like to get a second job and maybe even explore some extracurricular activities for my son and I, but without a vehicle before today, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do those things,” said Santos. “I’m so excited and grateful for what this vehicle means for our future.”

Don and Annette Castleberry and their refurbished 2008 Buick Lucerne.

A second vehicle also was given away in a surprise donation. Don and Annette Castleberry received a fully refurbished 2008 Buick Lucerne to replace their vehicle that was totaled recently in an accident. Don is the pastor of Pawnee Assembly of God in Pawnee, Ill.

“We’ve been involved in a giveaway program in California somewhat like this, but you never think you’ll be on the receiving end of something like this,” said Castleberry. “The generosity is simply overwhelming.”

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To be eligible for a vehicle in the Benevolence Program, a person must be associated with a not-for-profit agency or church, have a valid driver’s license or be in the process of receiving one, have a good driving record, and have a verified need for a vehicle.

“It’s incredible to see the immediate change a vehicle can make in the life of people, especially those who have had goals in life and now those goals are suddenly very close to reality,” said Julie Zara, co-owner of Zara’s Collision Center. “We feel so blessed as a family and business that we are able, along with so many others, to provide a boost to a person trying to move her life in a positive direction and another couple in the process of recovering from a traumatic event.”

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The Ford Fusion was donated by Randy and Barb O’Brien of Springfield, who organized the transportation of the vehicle from Florida to Springfield. Amber Meek is the donor of the Buick Lucerne. Zara’s coordinated all repairs and performed a comprehensive maintenance check to verify the vehicles’ safety and reliability. Zara’s vendors, employees, friends, family and insurance agents also actively support the program. Fifty-seven donors contributed to the program this year, providing monetary gifts of $11,515 in addition to gifts and gift cards.

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