WOODBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of people are getting the gift of car ownership for Christmas through the generosity of the auto collision industry.
On Thursday, three Long Island veterans were among the grateful recipients, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.
It’s a way to thank veterans for their service with more than just words.
Call it a two-ton thank you, if you will.
The insurance giant Geico and the collision company Caliber teamed up to play Santa, donating three cars to vets who served proudly but then struggled to navigate civilian life without wheels.
“It’s giving our veterans their life back and transportation to get back to we take for granted,” said Ken Lalia, Geico auto damage claims manager.
The National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program has refurbished hundreds of cars for those in need, gifting them to veterans like Brian Fisher, who served in Afghanistan and then came home needing a heart transplant and a car.
“Delays. It was hard to get to work and just other places, my medical appointments,” Fisher said.
That all changes, now.
“Just to know that I can get to work on time, not have to give any excuses why I’m late or anything like that. I’m just amazed I’m getting this vehicle today,” Fisher said.
Once-damaged or stolen cars are transformed with all donated body work, parts and materials.
Army veteran Rahsean Hall, who was once homeless, said, “I can’t believe it. It’s amazing, big life changer. This is one of the best things I’ve had in my life.”
“Cars that were no longer in use and be able to recycle them and give them to a recipient, it’s a life-changing event,” added Val Fichera, Caliber’s collision VP.
The cars come with more than warm wishes. They’re also stocked with warm clothing, gift cards and auto care supplies.
“This is freedom for me. This allows me to get out. It allows me to go shopping and see friends and family,” Air Force veteran Daniel Blomberg said. “It’s not just giving someone a ride; it’s giving them a life.”
And returns freedom to those who fought for ours.
The Recycled Rides program has given away hundreds of refurbished cars to veterans and others in need for more than a decade.