By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Region – A local veteran in need was presented with a Ford Taurus sedan Nov. 25 through Veterans Inc.’s Vehicle for Vets program and the donations of small businesses across Central Mass. and Metrowest.
Ed Cunningham was the lucky applicant selected by the Vehicles for Vets Committee, based on need and deservedness, according to committee member Dale Proulx.
“The car is intended to help the recipient seek gainful employment,” he said, adding that the committee has been giving away “one [car] a year so far, but we want to grow and expand the program.”
The car was presented to Cunningham during Veterans Inc.’s annual holiday harvest at the organization’s Worcester headquarters. More than 300 people attended the event to receive turkeys and all the trimmings.
Denise Sullivan of All Car Care in Southborough, coordinator of the effort, obtained a used car and enlisted the team at the company to perform the needed repairs and improvements. The 2001 Ford Taurus Sedan SES, with 35,000 miles, is a V6 3.0 automatic, four-door with leather interior, cruise control, power locks and heated mirrors. Participating vendors contributed parts, new tires, brakes, a stereo system, paint and more.
“We wanted a way to give back,” Sullivan said, “and the best way we know how was to give back a car. That’s what we do. We fix cars.”
Sullivan raised over $700 for the effort and secured assistance from businesses throughout the area: Consumer Auto Parts of Marlborough; Clean and Green Car Wash of Marlborough; Framingham Ford Lincoln; Gemini Signs of Marlborough; Howard’s Custom Upholstery of Marlborough; Mac HB Corporation of Windham, N.H.; Mega-Watt Car Stereo of Marlborough; Smith Auto Recycling of Clinton; and Tom Lyons Tire & Auto of Waltham.
“[Veterans] deserve to be recognized,” said Howard Priest from Howard’s Custom Upholstery. “They give of themselves to our country. I want to give back.”
Cunningham was one of numerous local veterans who underwent the lengthy application process to vie for the car. The application is open to residents of Veterans Inc.’s eight residential programs. Cunningham, who resides in Shrewsbury, recently became licensed as a certified nursing assistant and is in the final stages of obtaining a job.
“He actually delayed his job interview today to be there for the presentation,” Proulx noted.
The Ford Taurus was presented along with a $700 check – to cover the costs associated with getting the car on the road – a gas card and car wash gift certificates.
Financial support was provided by 1-800 Radiator of Worcester, Long Wholesale of Framingham, Middlesex Petroleum of Framingham, Route 85 Transmission of Marlborough, Ted’s of Fayville, St. Mary’s Credit Union of Marlborough, and Tool-Pro of North Grafton.
The Vehicles for Veterans Committee is always in need of vehicle donations. If you have an operational vehicle that you would like to donate, call 800-482-2565, ext. 128. All donations are 100-percent tax deductible.