Army reservist receives car donated through Recycled Rides program

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Army reservist receives car donated through Recycled Rides program
Participants in a special “Recycled Rides” event pose for a photo. (Photo/Stuart Foster)

REGION – U.S. Army Reserve Specialist Demetrius Coleman received a 2010 Honda Civic last month thanks to the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides program.

The event was hosted at CARSTAR Waldron’s A1 in Lancaster on June 30.

Coleman said that he has not had a car since he moved back to Massachusetts from Florida to help his mother, who is disabled, a few years ago. Not having a car caused many problems for Coleman, who had trouble getting to work on time and buying groceries.

When working overtime for his job with Northeast Security, Coleman said he sometimes had to sleep in the break room because he could not get home.

“Now with this vehicle, it makes me feel good that I’ll be able to go to college and be able to do anything for myself without having to rely on others,” Coleman said.

Program links collision repair businesses

The Recycled Rides program works with businesses in different parts of the collision repair industry, who work together to repair and donate vehicles to people who need them.

The car Coleman received was donated by Travelers Insurance and repaired by CARSTAR Waldron’s, which also has locations in Marlborough and Worcester.

Coleman now plans to enroll at Bridgewater State University in the fall where he will study computer science on the weekdays and attend drills on the weekend.

Coleman works as a signal support system specialist with the 309th Engineering Company in Taunton.

He described himself as a “jack of all trades” for electronics and communications. He has been in the military for seven years.

When he took an aptitude test for the Army, Coleman said that it revealed he had a talent for electronics and technology.

“That’s what really reinforced my wanting to get into computer science,” Coleman said.

Program benefits those needing a hand

Linda Sulkala, who worked as the program manager for Recycled Rides for seven years, said that the program willhand out its 3,000th vehicle later this year.

Sulkala said that the program donates cars to people who need a hand up from a bad situation, adding that half of the cars donated by Recycled Rides go to veterans.

She said that not having a reliable source of transportation is a factor that keeps people in poverty, noting that car ownership gives individuals an opportunity to travel to better jobs.

“It is so heartwarming to know that you played such a small role in this extraordinary gift of a vehicle,” Sulkala said.

Bob Waldron is the owner of CARSTAR Waldron’s A1.

He credited his staff for putting their heart and soul into the project.

“It was kind of touching, with everybody coming together and doing this for somebody that we’ve never met,” Waldron said.

Waldron added he would like to do a few events like this each year.

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